PARIS (AFP, XINHUA) – Neymar has sealed an endorsement deal with Puma, the German company announced on Saturday (Sept 12), two weeks after the Brazilian superstar left his long-time sponsor Nike.
“Welcome to the fam @neymarjr #KingIsBack” Puma tweeted alongside a photo of the Paris Saint-Germain striker, kitted out in the sportswear giant’s clothes.
The deal was double cheer for the world’s most expensive player, who on Friday declared that he was “super happy” to return to training, which implied that he has recovered from the coronavirus and moved out of isolation.
Neymar confirmed his new role as Puma’s poster boy in an open letter posted on social media.
“I grew up watching videos of great football legends such as Pele, Cruyff, Eusebio and Maradona….who each played in Puma.
“For these reasons, from today onward, I have the honour to unite with the brand that helped the biggest legends of football become what they are,” he wrote.
Neither Neymar nor Puma gave details of the length of the contract or how much it was worth.
The 28-year-old striker was one of seven players in the PSG squad who had tested positive recently.
The other infected players were Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi, Angel di Maria, Leandro Paredes, Keylor Navas and Marquinhos.
“I went back to training, supper happy #CORONAOUT,” the Brazilian posted on his Twitter account.
The absence of these key players had weakened Thomas Tuchel’s side significantly as the Ligue 1 defending champions launched their title defence with a shocking 1-0 defeat at newly promoted Lens on Thursday.
Tuchel’s team will face a busy schedule in the coming days with a clash against last season’s runners-up Marseille on Sunday, followed by Metz at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday. E
Speculation has been flying that Neymar would sign with Puma since his endorsement deal ended with Nike, the company that had sponsored him since he was a 13-year-old prodigy.
News that a deal had been struck was first published by Brazilian sports site Esporte Interativo, which is known for breaking the story of Neymar’s transfer from Barcelona to PSG in 2017.
Citing “exclusive information,” it said details on the agreement and Neymar’s first promotional appearances for Puma were expected “in the coming days”
Neymar had appeared to drop hints that a deal was close, said Esporte Interativo.
He recently followed Puma, PumaFootball and eight other accounts associated with the brand on Instagram, and posted a picture of himself on Thursday with what appeared to be a statue of a puma in the background.
Neymar’s last arrangement with Nike was reportedly an 11-year contract worth a total US$105 million (S$143.7 million).
Forbes magazine, which ranks him the world’s seventh highest-paid celebrity, estimates his earnings for this year at US$95.5 million, including endorsement deals.
PSG paid a record €222 million (S$360 million) for his transfer from Barcelona in 2017.
With his skinny good looks, tattoos, ever-changing hairstyles and huge following on social media, Neymar is one of the biggest names in sports and beyond – though his brand has been tarnished at times.
On the pitch, critics accuse him of diving in matches. Off the pitch, he has faced accusations of tax fraud and a 2019 rape allegation.
Brazilian police later dismissed the latter case, citing a lack of evidence.