Neymar arrives in Spain

Brazilian striker completes move to Spanish champions Barcelona to form formidable attacking partnership with Messi.

Last Modified: 03 Jun 2013 13:54
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Barcelona beat arch-rivals Real Madrid to the highly-rated 21-year-old last weekend after almost three years of interest from European clubs [GALLO/GETTY]

Neymar arrived in Barcelona on Monday to complete his deal with the Catalan club, which will see the Brazil star form a formidable attacking partnership with Lionel Messi.

Neymar travelled straight to Spain from Brazil's friendly with England in Rio de Janeiro and is set to sign a five-year contract on Monday after choosing Barcelona over Real Madrid, bringing an end to an intense bidding war between the fierce rivals.

Neymar's flight from Brazil arrived an hour behind schedule at around 1pm local time. Decked out in solid black with sunglasses and a baseball cap, he took a chartered bus straight to Camp Nou where he took his first photograph in front of the blue and burgundy club insignia.

With the traditional thumbs-up welcome shoot done, Neymar stepped forward and waved over the mob of photographers to the hundreds of fans who had gathered wearing Brazil and Barcelona jerseys and were chanting his name.

After undergoing two medical exams, he will meet with club president Sandro Rosell to ink the deal and then get his first touches of a ball on the Camp Nou pitch in front of his new supporters.

High praise

Earlier on Monday, Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta said Neymar is coming "to the best place to grow,'' and that he expects the 21-year-old forward to become even better when paired in attack with four-time world player of the year Messi.

"He can bring us a lot because he is very talented player,'' said Iniesta.

He [Neymar] brings his ability to break down defences, to score, and to entertain. He is young. He has a long path ahead of him, and he is coming to the best place to grow.

Andres Iniesta,

"He brings his ability to break down defences, to score, and to entertain. He is young. He has a long path ahead of him, and he is coming to the best place to grow.''

Iniesta also tried to ease the pressure on his new teammate and allay any concerns fans might have about whether two major stars like Messi and Neymar can play together.

"He is coming to the best possible place for him,'' Iniesta said.

"Let him do what he does best, that is enough. It is great news that we can count on him. Surrounded by the people he will have here, he will get better and better.

"Great players always understand one another. Leo will be make Neymar better, and Neymar will make Leo better.''

Another question is whether Neymar's arrival will mean the exit of Spain striker David Villa, who also plays on the left flank of Barcelona's attack.

Neymar flew to the Mediterranean city on a private jet with a small entourage that left Brazil after the national side's 2-2 draw with England on Sunday. He will then quickly return to his home country for the upcoming Confederations Cup which Brazil is hosting in preparation for the 2014 World Cup.

Neymar led Santos to its greatest run since Pele stopped playing for the club in the 1970s. He helped Santos win the 2010 Brazilian Cup, the 2011 Copa Libertadores and three straight Sao Paulo state championships and remains the club's leading scorer in the post-Pele era with 138 goals in 230 matches.

Barcelona has not disclosed the financial details of the transfer, but Brazilian media said the Catalan club will pay about 30 million euros for the youngster.

Santos had fielded offers from Barcelona and Madrid and said it was up to Neymar to choose where he wanted to continue his career. Neymar signed an agreement to join the Spanish champions on May 27.


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