Barcelona: Neymar completed his move to Barcelona on Monday in a deal that unites the Brazil star with Lionel Messi in a formidable attacking partnership. Neymar signed a five-year contract with club president Sandro Rosell after choosing Barcelona over Real Madrid in an intense two-year bidding war between the fierce Spanish rivals.
Formalities done, the 21-year-old striker jogged onto the Camp Nou pitch for the first time in his new Barcelona kit bearing the No. 11 and the name "Neymar Jr" on the back.
"I am very happy, very moved to be a Barcelona player and fulfill my dream," Neymar told the tens of thousands of fans who turned out to welcome him.
Neymar made it clear that he knows that, at least for now, he will have to play second fiddle to Messi.
"I want to help the team," he said. "I have come to add my part so that Lionel Messi continues to be the best player in the world."
Barcelona vice president Josep Bartomeu said that the transfer cost Barcelona 57 million euros ($74 million), to be split between Santos and three other companies that own part of his rights. Bartomeu said the club had expected to pay about 40 million euros, but that "the interference of other clubs" inflated the price, an allusion to Madrid.
Barcelona's previous most expensive transfer was for Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2009, when they paid Inter Milan 45 million euros (then $64 million) plus striker Samuel Eto'o. Neymar's flight from Brazil arrived an hour behind schedule at about 1 p.m. local time. Decked out in black with sunglasses and a baseball cap, he took a chartered bus straight to Camp Nou and had his first photograph taken in front of the blue-and-burgundy club insignia.
During the traditional thumbs-up welcome shoot Neymar stepped forward and waved over the mob of photographers to the hundreds of fans who had gathered wearing Brazil and Barcelona jerseys and chanting his name. He was then rushed through two medical exams and back to the office to sign the deal. Even before making it official, Neymar's new teammates had given him their vote of confidence.
Earlier on Monday, Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta said Neymar is coming "to the best place to grow," and that he expects him to become even better when paired in attack with Messi, the four-time world player of the year.
"He can bring us a lot because he is very talented player," Iniesta said. "He brings his ability to break down defenses, to score, and to entertain. He is young. He has a long path ahead of him, and he is coming to the best place to grow."
Iniesta also tried to ease the pressure on his new teammate and allay any concerns fans might have about whether two major stars like Messi and Neymar can play together.
"He is coming to the best possible place for him," Iniesta said. "Let him do what he does best, that is enough. It is great news that we can count on him. Surrounded by the people he will have here, he will get better and better. Great players always understand one another. Leo will be make Neymar better, and Neymar will make Leo better."
Dani Alves recalled the long line of Brazilian forwards who have triumphed at Barcelona, including Romario, Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho.
"He will give us a Brazilian touch," countryman Dani Alves said of Neymar. "The others left their mark. I am sure he will, too."
Neymar flew to the Mediterranean city on a private jet with a small entourage, including his father Neymar Silva Santos, that left Rio de Janeiro after the national side's 2-2 draw with England on Sunday. He will return to his home country for the upcoming Confederations Cup, which Brazil is hosting in preparation for the 2014 World Cup.
Neymar led Santos on its greatest run since Pele stopped playing for the Brazilian club in the 1970s. He helped Santos win the 2010 Brazilian Cup, the 2011 Copa Libertadores and three straight Sao Paulo state championships, becoming the team's leading scorer in the post-Pele era with 138 goals in 230 matches.