Neymar’s move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain was not motivated by money, according to former teammate Luis Suarez.
PSG paid Neymar’s €222 million release clause to wrestle him away from Camp Nou in a world record deal. The Brazil forward is reportedly earns around €30m a year after tax at the Ligue 1 champions, much more than he earned at Barca, but Suarez does not think money was the main focus of the move.
“We talked to him, Messi and I,” Suarez told German magazine kicker. “Ney asked for our opinion. He had doubts. He was here for a long time [four years]. He had everything he needed.
“I don’t think he left because of the money. He has other goals he wants to achieve with Paris [Saint-Germain].”
Suarez and Neymar formed one of football’s most-feared attacking lines at Barcelona with five-time world player of the year Lionel Messi. In three seasons playing together, they scored 364 goals, firing Barca to the Treble in 2014-15 under Luis Enrique.
However, Suarez concedes the reason it worked so well was because he and Neymar had so much respect for Messi. Neymar’s desire to lead a project on his own and to win the Ballon d’Or could, therefore, have been another reason for him to move to PSG.
“A guy from Uruguay, another from Argentina and one from Brazil — they all said it couldn’t work,” Suarez added. “But it did. Because we both had respect for Messi, the best player in the world. But also because of Neymar’s talent, which already makes him a Ballon d’Or candidate now.
“And I stuck to my role, looked for space on the pitch, knew I had to make good runs to get chances. It was about building a good relationship, without any enviousness.
“We took penalties in turns and [Barca defender] Gerard Pique said he never saw anything like that at this level. That’s why we felt sorry when he left. We were colleagues and friends.”
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.