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Neymar makes brave decision to step into the unknown

NEYMAR MAKES BRAVE DECISION TO STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN

The Brazilian winger has taken the decision to become the leader of a team but by moving to PSG for a world record fee, winning the Champions League is the only way to avoid being labelled a failure.

Barcelona fans have not taken kindly to Neymar leaving the club, with posters appearing outside Camp Nou labelling him a "traitor" and a "mercenary", but in heading for Paris Saint-Germain the winger is making a brave decision.

The money paid by Qatar-backed PSG is eye-watering, with the 222 million euro (263 million dollars) transfer fee stumped up on Thursday topped by a salary reported to reach 300 million euros over his five year deal. But Neymar has ambitions beyond fattening his bank account.

In flying the nest where he was well-looked after by five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi, nurtured from a precocious 21-year-old into a world star, Neymar takes a step into the unknown.

Wearing the number 10 shirt at PSG, which Messi owned at Barcelona, is a statement of the Brazilian's ambition. The 25-year-old is about to hit his peak and believes it is his time to lead a team, to be the figurehead, which could not have happened at Barcelona after Messi agreed his new contract earlier this summer.

With the exception of Real Madrid, Neymar could have moved to any other side in the world and instantly become the key player, the man the team was built around, but he opted to move to PSG.

The money played a part, with the Ligue 1 champions able to make him the second highest paid footballer in the world, behind only Shanghai Shenhua's Carlos Tevez, while few other sides would have been able to pay the 222m euro release clause immediately.

However, at the Parc des Princes Neymar has a chance to write history, with the club desperate to win their first Champions League trophy. Signing the winger is a show of intent on their part, while for him it would be a stepping stone on the way to a first Ballon d'Or.

While at Barcelona with Messi, Neymar had no chance of winning the award, because he would never be viewed as the best player in his own team, let alone the world. If he can drive PSG to Champions League glory, there would be no doubt over whether he merits it or not.

Neymar would love to be the man to break the hegemony set by Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo since 2008. He finished third in the 2015 award ceremony, and now wants more.

"An athlete (me) needs challenges. And for the second time in my life I will contradict my father," Neymar said in an emotional video on Instagram, as he explained why he was bidding Barcelona goodbye.

Winning the Champions League with PSG will be a challenge. The French club have never made it to the semi-finals, with Neymar the architect of their downfall last season as he shone in Barcelona's historic quarter-final second leg 6-1 thrashing.

Neymar loses the likes of Messi, Suarez, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique, world class performers, as he steps into a dressing room with less experience and silverware. The Brazilian must lead them to European glory, because no number of Ligue 1 and French Cup trophies will be seen as a success if the Champions League is not conquered.

By leaving Barcelona, Neymar leaves the protection he had with the presence of Messi, who not only absorbed the glow of the external spotlight, but also much of the attention from defenders on the pitch.

Whenever he takes to the field with PSG, Neymar will be a marked man, with his opponents looking for a chance to take down the most expensive player in football history.

It is impossible to say if Neymar's decision to leave Barcelona will prove good or bad - but it is, at least, bold.

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