On Friday, Neymar will be presented as a Paris Saint-Germain player following his stunning world-record €222million transfer from Barcelona.
During his time with the Catalan giants the 25-year-old Brazil forward established himself as one of football’s foremost global stars, picking up a host of major honours along the way.
But his time in Spain was also hindered by protracted legal wrangling over his 2013 move from Santos to Camp Nou.
Here, we offer a detailed timeline breakdown of a memorable four-year period that ended in abrupt and blockbusting fashion.
— PSG English (@PSG_English) August 3, 2017
January: Amid reports of having a pre-contract agreement in place to leave Santos and join Barcelona, Neymar tells Uruguayan newspaper El Pais: “I have no agreement with Barcelona or anyone else.”
March: Alongside Barca, Chelsea and Real Madrid are all reported to be in the running. Neymar does little to disappoint them. “I dream of playing in Europe for a big club like Barcelona, Real Madrid or Chelsea,” he tells Esporte Espactacular. Nevertheless, a possible preference is shown as he adds: “Who wouldn’t dream about playing alongside [Lionel] Messi, Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta. They’re all great players.”
April: Neymar’s father says his son will “close a chapter in his life” after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil by leaving for Europe after the tournament.
May 24: Santos announce they have received two offers for Neymar.
May 25: Neymar announces he will sign for Barcelona. The following day, ahead of a final appearance for Santos against Flamengo, he cries during the Brazilian national anthem pre-match.
Neymar has landed at El Prat Airport.The Brazilian is now on his way to the Camp Nou #neymarFCB
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) June 3, 2013
June 3: Neymar presented as a Barcelona player at Camp Nou after signing a five-year contract. Barca claim transfer fee to be €57.1million.
August: Makes competitive debut as a second-half substitute for Alexis Sanchez in the opening 7-0 LaLiga rout against Levante. Neymar’s first Barca goal follows as he heads in Dani Alves’ cross to equalise in the Supercopa de Espana first leg against Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon. Gerardo Martino’s side prevail on away goals.
September 24: First LaLiga goal in a 4-1 win over Real Sociedad.
October 26: On target in maiden Clasico before setting up Sanchez for the decisive goal in a 2-1 win.
December 11: Opens Champions League account with a hat-trick in a 6-1 thumping of Celtic.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 13, 2016
January 23: Barcelona president Sandro Rosell resigns after a Spanish court decides to investigate the club for alleged misappropriation of funds in relation to the Neymar deal. Rosell describes the allegations as “unfair and reckless”, while maintaining Barca “acted correctly”. The following month the club are charged with tax fraud over the deal.
February 24: Barca make a complementary tax declaration of €13.5m “to cover any potential interpretation made concerning the contracts signed in the transfer process for Neymar.” Maintain original payment was in line with tax obligations.
May/June: Barcelona finish the season without a major trophy, costing Martino his job. Neymar ends with 15 goals in all competitions and adds another four on Brazil’s run to the World Cup semi-finals on home soil. Injury rules him out of the 7-1 semi-final humiliation at the hands of Germany.
September 27: Hat-trick in 6-0 win over Granada begins a run of scoring in six consecutive games.
October 25: Barcelona field MSN for the first time. Messi and Luis Suarez combine for Neymar to score the opening goal at in El Clasico but Real Madrid run out 3-1 winners at the Santiago Bernabeu.
January 4: Neymar and Messi are left on the bench as Barca go down 1-0 at Real Sociedad, piling pressure on boss Luis Enrique and prompting widespread reports of dressing-room unrest. A stunning turnaround followed.
April 21: Hits a brace against PSG in the Champions League quarter-finals to move on to 30 goals for the season.
May 17: Barcelona clinch La Liga with a 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid.
May 30: Neymar scores the second goal in a 3-1 Copa del Rey final win over Athletic Bilbao at Camp Nou.
June 6: By rounding off the scoring in the 3-1 win over Juventus in Berlin with his 39th of the season, Neymar becomes the first player to net in final victories in both the Champions League and the Copa Libertadores. Ten goals made him the joint top scorer in the competition in 2014-15 alongside Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. MSN finish the campaign with 122 goals.
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) June 6, 2015
October 17: Scores four goals in a 5-2 win over Rayo Vallecano as Messi sits out injured.
November 30: Shortlisted for the FIFA Ballon d’Or and subsequently comes third behind Messi and Ronaldo.
December 30: Helps Barca to a 3-0 victory over River Plate in the FIFA Club World Cup final.
March 10: Barcelona announce the club, president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Rosell will not face trial over allegations they defrauded the Spanish tax authorities during the Neymar transfer from Santos.
May 22: Neymar closes the season with an extra-time goal in the 2-0 Copa del Rey final win over Sevilla, having scored 24 times as Barca retained LaLiga. This marked Neymar’s most prolific season in Spain’s top flight, while MSN plundered 131 across all competitions.
June 14: Bartomeu confirms Barcelona have reached a settlement regarding the tax saga stemming from the Neymar-Santos saga.
July 1: Neymar agrees new five-year Barcelona contract running until 2021, with a buyout clause set at an initial €200m. He eventually signs his deal in October.
August 21: Scores in normal time and converts the decisive penalty as Brazil claim Olympic gold against Germany at Rio 2016.
A ti, toda a honra e toda a glóriapic.twitter.com/pE1t1meuYc
— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) August 21, 2016
November 23: Spanish prosecutors seek two-year prison sentence – although time in jail is highly unlikely under the country’s laws – and €10m fine for Neymar on corruption charges regarding the Santos deal. The proceedings relate to a complaint made by Brazilian investment group DIS, with the same punishment sought for Neymar’s father and Rosell.
March 8: Neymar scores a late free-kick and penalty during a virtuoso performance to inspire Barcelona to a sensational 6-5 comeback aggregate win over PSG at Camp Nou. Their Champions League campaign would end in the next round – Juventus besting them in the quarter-finals.
April 2: Brings up 100th Barcelona goal in his 177th appearance in a 4-1 win over Granada.
May 4: Spain’s national court opens trial proceedings against Neymar, members of the player’s family, Rosell and Bartomeu on charges of alleged fraud and corruption relating to the transfer from Santos.
May 27: Barca gain consolation for missing out on LaLiga to Real Madrid with a 3-1 triumph against Alaves to lift a third consecutive Copa del Rey in Luis Enrique’s final match at the helm. Neymar scores his 105th and final competitive goal for the club.
Gracias Mister! pic.twitter.com/lNY0r44bgB
— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) May 29, 2017
July 1: Under the terms of his most recent contract, Neymar’s release clause increases to €222m. In the final three years of the contract it is pencilled in to stand at €250m.
July 17: Barca technical secretary Robert Fernandez wades into the transfer saga linking Neymar with PSG and confidently declares “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
July 20: Bartomeu expresses his confidence that Neymar will stay, saying: “These clauses are impossible to activate if you want to comply with Financial Fair Play.”
July 30: International Champions Cup win over Madrid in Miami proves to be Neymar’s last in a Barcelona shirt.
August 2: Following mounting speculation, Barcelona announce Neymar has informed them of his wish to leave the club and he says farewell to his team-mates at their training base.
August 3: Despite resistance to the move from LaLiga, Barca accept a payment of €222m to release Neymar from his contract, paving the way for PSG to announce the world-record capture later that evening.
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