The prospect of leaving one of the biggest sports clubs in the world during the prime of your career seems impossible, but Neymar is set to do just that. The 25-year-old soccer star's move from Barcelona to French club Paris Saint-Germain is nearing completion, inspiring his teammates to address their friend one last time.
That includes the most famous of them all, Argentinean soccer legend Leo Messi. In a post on his Instagram Wednesday morning, Messi shared a montage of moments the two spent on the field together, reflecting on four years of triumphs with the Catalan club.
The caption was another touching tribute to Neymar, and Messi made no secret of his affinity for the Brazilian star. "It was an enormous pleasure to have shared all these years with [my] friend Neymar," the caption reads. "I wish you luck in this new stage of your life. I love you."
After a summer of speculation, Neymar's unthinkable move away from Camp Nou now looks inevitable. Reports surfaced that Wednesday morning's training session would be Neymar's last with the club, and that he'd use the opportunity to say goodbye to his teammates in the process. The club all but confirmed this was the case by releasing a statement on the matter, announcing Neymar's intent to move on.
"The player Neymar Jr., accompanied by his father and agent, has informed FC Barcelona this morning of his decision to leave the Club in a meeting held at the Club's offices," reads the statement.
That doesn't mean they're going to let the youngest of their stars move on for cheap. Barcelona insists they will not be negotiating the buy-out clause in his contract, and expect the purchasing club to cough up €222 million (more than $262 million), a fee that would more than double the all-time transfer record, set by Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba last summer.
The only player not doing much speaking up on the matter is Neymar himself, as his social media accounts have remained fairly quiet during the process.
Even his rivals at Real Madrid have weighed in on the matter. Following their latest matchup in a preseason El Clásico in Miami, Madrid defender Sergio Ramos expressed his excitement about no longer having to face Neymar.
"We changed shirts at the end, and I hope that's the last time I get a Barca one from him, that wouldn't be a problem for us at all," said Ramos. "I think he is a great player and a key man for Barcelona."