Neymar’s father claims he tried to keep the forward at Barcelona, until they “blackmailed” him into staying and “lost my support”.
Paris Saint-Germain finally signed Neymar for a world-record, €222m on Thursday, but the transfer was held up over a €26m loyalty payment, which Barca would only pay the Brazilian if he remained at Camp Nou.
“I was on Barcelona’s side, trying to convince him to stay,” Neymar Sr told Cadena COPE.
“With the attitude of their board, I changed my mind. It was his decision. It’s where he dreamed of going.
“He was comfortable, in an area of comfort, calm… He listened to the advice of his friends.
“He listened to the people around him, he wanted to face this challenge, and now he’s following his destiny.
“I think he’s shown a lot of courage, he had the right to make that choice.
“We waited for the right moment, which we thought was going to be the right one, with enough time to have precisely the peace of mind to make a decision.
“We had that time, and when he came back from China, he made the decision. We informed Barca of his desire to leave and we asked PSG to pay his clause.
“I think he wanted to change his destiny. There have been several issues and I can’t summarise them here.
“There were several feelings that he had to change. We have also had difficulty making the change. It was a difficult decision.
“You, as a father, put yourself in his position, when your son makes a decision, and what do you do?
“What do I do, tell him to stay? And tomorrow he’ll throw it in my face and tell me, ‘you didn’t let me go’ … even though the responsibility is also mine. He plays football and I manage his career.
“Neymar didn’t want to be the leading light [at Barca]. Barcelona had one [in Messi] and he’ll always be it, not only because of the love and respect that Neymar has for Leo, he’s his idol.
“Imagine everyone said that he had to be [Messi’s] substitute. He doesn’t want to be his substitute.
“Neymar has to go his own way and take on the challenge he has in front of him. It wasn’t fair for Leo or Ney.
“I think my son, up to this point, has done well, understanding what Leo represents, not only for Catalonia but world football in its entirety.
“I think he’s shown a lot of respect [to Messi] and now he has to go his own way.
“He could go to any club and be a leading light … Not that he wants to be No 1. He’s taking a risk. Do you really think PSG can guarantee him the Ballon d’Or?
“It’s crazy to think that, it’s crazy that people believe that. It’d be easier for him to continue at Barcelona with all their help. It’s a huge misunderstanding. You have to respect my son’s position.
“He was very happy and proud of everything he’d done with Barcelona and left through the front door. People forget how things have gone.
“Why should Neymar say anything? Neymar should say nothing! That he had to speak in each transfer window, that he had to leave, leave or stay, leave or stay…
“He has a long contract and if he has to leave, he has a high release clause that he has to pay and he did.
“We left through the front door because we told the club first, we did the deal and that’s it, it’s over.
“It’s now clear that our separation could’ve gone differently, but life goes on.
“My son is going to live his life and we’re going to support and encourage him so it all goes well. Like all the Barcelona players did with him, we’ll show him our support.
“There’s not going to be any problems. There doesn’t have to be. There’s a clause, which is determined by both the player and the club.
“Do you understand? The player has to fulfil his contract, and if not, he has a clause to pay. It’s very simple, it’s very easy, it’s very clear, his contract even more so, thank God.
“€26m bonus? If they weren’t going to pay us, I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t blackmail them.
“At that moment, Barcelona lost my support. Until that moment, they had it. His contract was very explicit and very clear…
“It was a bonus for him signing his contract, so the player’s clause has increased. If Neymar had to leave, it would be a reason for it to be increased, but that’s a topic to discuss in the future, not for now.
“Barcelona have to do what they believe is right, but I know what we talked about and I can clearly look their eyes over what was said and what wasn’t said. I know what we did.
“Now, if people don’t respect what was said then I won’t respect what they write.
“He’s happy, very happy. He came here, he was well received. I don’t think they’ve been able to register him yet, but I think it’ll be resolved in a few hours.
“I don’t think Barcelona have released him yet, but these are steps that’ll be resolved in a short time.”