BARCELONA: Neymar informed his teammates he is leaving Barcelona, a club spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday, as his potential world record move to Paris Saint-Germain moved a step closer.
“The player came to train as scheduled and announced to his teammates that he is leaving,” said the source.
“The coach has given him permission to not train and to manage resolving his future.”
Speculation over the 25-year-old’s future has dominated the first few weeks of new Barca boss Ernesto Valverde’s reign with PSG reportedly willing to pay Neymar’s 222 million euro ($260 million) buyout clause.
Such a fee would smash the current record £89.3 million ($111 million, 105.2 million euros) Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba last year.
Neymar arrived back in Barcelona on Tuesday from a fleeting promotional tour to China.
He turned up for training at 9am local time (0700GMT) on Wednesday, but left less than an hour later.
Presuming both clubs don’t come to a late agreement, the buyout clause would have to be paid to Barcelona via Spain’s La Liga to free the player from the contract he signed last year and runs until 2021.
However, La Liga president Javier Tebas has threatened not to accept PSG’s money over what he perceives as a failure on the French side’s part to comply with UEFA’s financial fair play rules (FFP).
Clubs can be sanctioned by UEFA for making a loss of more than 30 million euros over a three-year period.
“We will not accept this money from a club like PSG,” Tebas told Madrid sports daily AS on Wednesday.
“Especially when this club is infringing rules and laws.”
Barcelona have also threatened to report PSG to UEFA over any potential breach of FFP.
PSG have already been fined and saw their Champions League squad limited by UEFA for breaches of FFP in 2014.
Winning the Champions League for a first time is the dream driving PSG’s owners Oryx Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) to fund a deal that could herald the start of a new era at the elite level of European football.
Since QSI’s takeover in 2011, PSG have failed to make it beyond the quarter-final stage in recent seasons – most notably blowing a 4-0 first leg lead to lose 6-1 to a Neymar-inspired Barcelona in the last 16 of last season’s competition in March.
Prising Neymar from the grip of Barca would truly announce PSG’s presence as a contender for the likes of Barca, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich to fear.
Neymar has formed one of the deadliest strike partnerships in football history with five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez over the past three seasons.
Together they have won two La Liga titles, a Champions League and three Spanish Cups, whilst Neymar has scored 105 goals and provided 80 assists in just 186 games.