SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian forward Neymar said he will join Barcelona after next month’s Confederations Cup, the latest addition to a star filled roster that already includes four-time FIFA Player of the Year Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.
The decision came Saturday, a day after his Brazilian club Santos said it had accepted offers from Barcelona and Spanish rival Real Madrid. Santos said the decision was Neymar’s, and he made the announcement Saturday on Twitter and other social media sites.
”My friends and my family already know of my decision,” Neymar wrote. ”On Monday I will sign a contract with Barcelona.”
Barcelona confirmed the deal on its own Twitter account.
”FC Barcelona have reached an agreement with Santos for Neymar,” the club said. ”The Brazilian player will join FC Barcelona for the next five seasons.”
Neymar didn’t give any details on the offer he and Santos accepted from Barcelona. The club only said the agreement was for five seasons.
Neymar said he will play his last match with Santos on Sunday against Flamengo in the team’s first match in this year’s Brazilian league.
”I want to thank Santos fans for these nine incredible years,” Neymar said. ”My feelings for the club and the fans will never change. I made it sure that I play (this last match) so I can have the opportunity to once again enter the field wearing the team’s jersey and to hear the fan chant my name.”
The 21-year-old is perhaps Brazil’s key player in the Confederations Cup and in the World Cup, which Brazil hosts next year.
Neymar led Santos to its greatest run since Pele stopped playing for the club in the 1970s. The youngster helped Santos win the 2010 Brazilian Cup, the 2011 Copa Libertadores and three straight Sao Paulo state championships. He is the club’s leading scorer in the post-Pele era with 138 goals in 229 matches.
He joins a Barcelona team with a core of players who came up through the club’s youth academy, a group that includes Messi, Xavi and Iniesta plus defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, midfielders Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets and Thiago Alcantera, and forward Pedro Rodriguez.
”It’s a different situation for me,” he said. ”It’s sad because it’s a farewell and happy because it’s a new challenge.”