Qatar had been planning Neymar’s transfer since it become involved with Paris Saint-Germain in 2012, while Barcelona had promised to sell Lionel Messi, according to the French TV program Téléfoot.
The report says PSG’s sporting director at the time, Leonardo, had targeted Neymar when the young star was still playing at Santos in Brazil. No concrete offer was put on the table, as PSG thought they had no chance against the big teams trying to lure Neymar, notably Chelsea and FC Barcelona.
Neymar joined Barcelona in 2013, but PSG did not quit in its attempt to buy the Brazilian. Téléfoot reports that the Barcelona board promised Neymar they would sell Messi in the future to Manchester City, to clear the way for the Brazilian to be the leader of the team, something that didn’t happen. Reports of Neymar’s dissatisfaction of being #2 behind Lionel Messi became an issue, despite their good personal relationship.
Last year, Manchester United was ready to pay Neymar's release clause, with the player agreeing to join the English club. At the last moment, FC Barcelona managed to persuade the Brazilian to extend his contract, giving him 20 million euros net each year and increasing his release clause from 190 to 222 million.
Barcelona wanted to increase his release clause even more, but his father blocked the request. Antero Henrique joined as PSG sporting director, and he got in touch with Pini Zahavi, a close advisor to Neymar. After PSG were eliminated in embarrassing fashion last season by Barcelona in the Champions League, club Presidetnt Nasser Al-Khelaifi announced that PSG would make a statement signing in the summer.
Téléfoot reports that Neymar’s signature was not guaranteed until the last moment, and players from both clubs lobbied for him to play with them next season. Marquinhos, Lucas Moura, and Dani Alves chatted with Neymar, trying to get him to join the Parisian club. Messi was the one who did the most lobbying for Ney to stay in Catalonia.
The decisive moment, says the report, was the meeting this past summer. The Barcelona board told the player they did not want to pay him a 26 million loyalty bonus. This angered Neymar and his father, and made them choose PSG.