Lionel Messi bid farewell to Neymar on Instagram today after the Brazilian striker told him and other Barcelona teammates he was leaving, saying it was a “huge pleasure” to have played with him. The Catalan club confirmed today that Neymar wanted to leave after weeks of intense speculation, taking the 25-year-old closer to a potential world record move to Paris Saint-Germain. “It was a huge pleasure having shared all those years with you, my friend @neymarjr,” Messi wrote on Instagram next to a montage of pictures of both football stars high-fiving, embracing or laughing. “I wish you lots of luck in this new stage in your life. See you soon tkm,” he added. “Tkm” stands for “te quiero mucho” (I love you loads). “Thanks brother. I will miss you man,” Neymar replied on Instagram.
Speculation over Neymar’s future has dominated the first few weeks of new Barca boss Ernesto Valverde’s reign. On Wednesday, the Catalan club insisted the Brazilian’s 222 million euro ($260 million) buyout clause must be paid. Such a fee would smash the current record £89.3 million ($111 million, 105.2 million euros) Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba last year. The player’s advisor Wagner Ribeiro said the fee would be paid “in the coming hours” and Neymar could be presented in Paris “this weekend.”