Lionel Messi bid farewell to Neymar after Barcelona confirmed that the Brazil star has told the club of his desire to move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Neymar turned up at Barca’s training ground on Wednesday but did not train with Ernesto Valverde’s squad, instead signalling his intention to leave before saying goodbye to his teammates.
Barca have since released a statement referring PSG to the 25-year-old’s €222 million buyout clause and saying it must be paid in full.
Following the news, Messi wrote on Instagram: “It was an enormous pleasure to have shared these years with you Neymar, friend. I wish you a lot of luck in the next stage of your life. See you.”
He ended the message with “TKM,” short for “te quiero mucho” or “love you a lot.”
And Neymar responded by writing: “Thank you brother… I’ll miss you mate!”
Fue un placer enorme haber compartido todos estos años con vos amigo @neymarjr Te deseo mucha suerte en esta nueva etapa de tu vida . Nos vemos Tkm
Neymar joined Barca in 2013, saying one of the reasons was the chance to play alongside and learn from Messi, who has been voted the world’s best player five times.
Along with Luis Suarez, who signed from Liverpool in 2014, they formed the formidable “MSN” attack, leading Barca to a Treble in 2015 and scoring 364 goals between them across three seasons.
However, Neymar’s desire to step out of Messi’s shadow and stake his own claim for being the world’s best player is reported to be one of the motives behind his desire to move to Paris.
After leaving the club’s training ground on Wednesday, he headed to the offices at Camp Nou with his father and his friends, where he held a meeting with high-ranking club directors.
COPE journalist Helena Condis reported on Wednesday afternoon that Neymar was heading for London, with Wagner Ribeiro — who is no longer officially Neymar’s agent but still does work for his father’s company, N&N Consulting — telling her the buyout clause could be deposited as early as this afternoon.
La Liga president Javier Tebas, though, had earlier said the Spanish league will not accept the money for the buyout clause and vowed to complain about PSG to UEFA and the European Union for what he feels are clear breaches of financial fair play.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.