Brazilian soccer phenom Neymar Junior said he has “butterflies in his stomach” on Tuesday (May 28) a day after signing with FC Barcelona where he will play alongside other soccer greats including Argentina’s Lionel Messi.
However, the Brazilian star, who unveiled the shoes he will use when he joins the rest of his national side in next month’s Confederations Cup said the national team and the international tournament are on the top of his mind at the moment.
Neymar signed a five-year contract with Barcelona on Monday (May 27) choosing the Spanish team over La Liga rival Real Madrid.
Despite the excitement, the 21-year-old forward admitted he feels the pangs of bidding farewell to his current Santos club where who grew up as a player.
“It was a decision that I made together with my family, who helped me a lot. It’s a dream come true for me. I am very happy, and at the same time sad to be leaving a team of my heart, the city where I grew up, where I played nine years with Santos. But I’m happy to be going to a new challenge, for realizing a dream. Now, it’s time to enjoy every moment,” Neymar said.
Santos ended three years of resisting offers for the 21-year-old forward, letting him go before next year’s tournament.
According to Brazilian newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, Barcelona will pay Neymar 75 million euros ($97 million) over five years, as well as a 28 million euro transfer fee.
Neymar played a teary final alongside his Santos team-mates in a match against Flamengo at the capital’s completely refurbished World Cup stadium in their opening match of the Brazilian championship on Sunday (May 26) .
The reigning South American Player of the Year will link up at Barcelona with Argentine ace Lionel Messi, four times FIFA World Player of the Year.
The pair faced each other when Barcelona beat Santos 4-0 in the Club World Cup final in December 2011.
Barcelona are looking to revamp their stellar squad after being eliminated from the European Champions League at the semi-final stage in the last two seasons.
“I have the feeling of butterflies in my stomach. I still do, to be realizing a dream to play with various star players like [Barcelona forward, Lionel] Messi; [midfielder, Xavier] ‘Xavi’ [Hernandez]; [midfielder, Andres] Iniesta; [defender], Daniel Alves; [defender], Adriano [Correia] and others there. So, I’m anxious to get there, but now the focus is the Confederations Cup. That is the most important, to bring Brazil the title,” Neymar said.
Lining up Messi and Neymar together will likely keep the Barcelona standard at least as high as in their Champions League and Club World Cup winning seasons, a benchmark arch-rivals Real Madrid could struggle to match.
Neymar will get a chance to score some goals in the new shoes before the Confederations Cup when he and the rest of Brazil’s squad face England this Sunday (June 2) in the iconic Maracana stadium.