Neymar says he is not happy that some Barcelona fans are angry with him for moving to Paris Saint-Germain, but defended his decision to leave by saying that “no one is forced to stay in a place.”
The transfer drama dominated headlines over the past two weeks before finally coming to a close on Thursday with Neymar signing a five-year deal after buying out his Barcelona contract’s release clause for a record €222 million.
Soon after the initial reports emerged of Neymar’s interest in PSG emerged, 87 percent of respondents to an online poll in Spanish newspaper Sport thought he was being disrespectful to Barcelona, even while he continued to stay quiet on his future while playing in the club’s U.S. preseason tour.
And when his decision to leave did become official, a fans in their numbers posted videos of themselves burning Neymar’s Barcelona shirt.
But on the day he was officially unveiled by PSG, Neymar said in an interview that he would not have spoken up to announce his plans any earlier.
“No, because I didn’t have to do anything,” Neymar said. “It wasn’t something that was 100 percent decided. From the moment everybody started talking about it, all the transactions, conversations, I had nothing decided yet.
“The moment I decided, I communicated. People wanted me to stay if I was coming or going but at that moment I was still thinking about it. And I didn’t have to say that I was staying at Barcelona if I was already there.
“It’s something very crazy, but I understand the perspective of the fan. It is a passion beyond anything else, but I never disrespected the club, I never wanted anything of that.
“At the end, yes I am sad, but for everything that was said, everything they did, and them thinking I left them in the wrong way. I didn’t want that. Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone.
“And each player has his motivations. No one is forced to stay in a place, and at that moment I didn’t want to. I wanted a new challenge for me.
“I am respectful, thankful for all the love from all the fans at Barcelona. I thank the team personnel for everything that they have done for me over the years and mainly the players, who have supported me in a spectacular fashion.”