Guingamp, a sleepy Breton town of little more than 7,000, hopes to be front and centre of the sporting world on Sunday, theSportsMan.com said.
Neymar, the most expensive footballer in history, having been signed by Paris Saint-Germain for a quite staggering €222 million, is set to make his debut at its Stade du Roudourou.
Fans clamouring for a first glance of the Brazil international striker playing for the Ligue 1 giants, however, may be left disappointed.
The world got its first chance to see Neymar put the ball in the net wearing PSG’s colours on Tuesday, as the club released video footage of the Brazil international scoring twice in training.
The 25-year-old, as he readily displayed with a cute lob and emphatic penalty during training, is fully fit and ready to go for his club, but bureaucracy may prevent him from turning out at the weekend.
“If the Roudourou had 200,000 seats, we could fill them all,” Guingamp head coach Antoine Kombouare told the media last week over the prospect of the Brazilian featuring. “People will come from all over the world – and I mean it.”
Pilgrims to watch the former Barcelona man could be left disappointed as the player’s International Transfer Certificate (ITC), which is required before he can turn out for PSG, has not yet been received.
The ITC is the document that confirms a player’s eligibility to be registered with a team in a particular association. So, in Neymar’s case, the Spanish FA (RFEF) must send a copy of this document to their French counterparts (FFF) as well as FIFA, else the Brazilian is not considered eligible for his new side.
However, this could prove a relatively lengthy process.
FIFA’s rules state: “If the new association does not receive a response to the ITC request within 30 days of the ITC request being made, it shall immediately register the professional with the new club on a provisional basis.”
That means that the RFEF, who initially blocked the move, still have time to play with before coming under investigation.
PSG, of course, attracted the ire of Barcelona from the manner they whisked Neymar away from them by the use of his buy-out clause, which would have gone up to €250 million had he stayed at Camp Nou a further year.
If the delay on the Spanish side was to be drawn out to its full extent, it would be September 2 before Neymar was able to play for PSG, thereby missing fixtures against Guingamp, Toulouse and Saint-Etienne.
Officially, the hold up has been caused by the transfer fee not yet appearing in Barcelona’s bank account.
Barca spokesman Jose Vivas explained that “the missing piece will not be sent as long as the money is not actually in the account”.
The RFEF are insistent that the transfer is proceeding as any other, but if that is the case, that is the only thing normal about a ground-breaking deal.
As for those fans who will travel to Guingamp at the weekend with the expectation of witnessing a player who has cost twice as much as any other, they face a nervous wait for the papers to be cleared.