LONDON — If world soccer’s transfer record is obliterated by Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain, it will be a coup for the French club – as well as its owners from the energy-rich emirate of Qatar.

By signing the Brazilian star for its flagship sporting asset, Qatar would project a business-as-usual image to foreign allies and investors after two months locked in a bitter diplomatic dispute with its neighbors.

While a footnote in monetary terms in Qatar’s wider investment portfolio, the immensely wealthy 2022 World Cup host nation has long used sports as a way to elevate its stature. Signing one of the most recognizable and marketable figures in the sports world would be an extravagant demonstration of that.

Meeting Neymar’s mandatory fee of $262 million would be the most significant move yet to join the soccer elite by PSG as it prepares for its seventh season under ownership closely linked to Qatar’s ruling family.

“They are trying to literally score a point here,” said Christopher Davidson, who teaches Middle East politics at Durham University in northeast England. “It sounds like a lot of money but given the stakes are hundreds of billions of dollars because of the World Cup, Neymar will be seen as a sound investment by Qatar.

“It proves they have the funds available and have some liquidity to still be taken seriously.”

Qatar has been waging an international public relations offensive to fend off accusations by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain that it supports extremists.

Qatar strongly denies the allegation and sees the boycott by regional rivals as a politically motivated attempt to change its foreign policy and undermine its sovereignty, with the natural gas-rich country’s only land border sealed off.

Soccer stars haven’t been deterred from flying in, helping give the impression the desert nation is weathering the boycott.

Barcelona players Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba recently visited a soccer academy and greeted fans at a mall in the Qatari capital. Alba was photographed signing a shirt with a now-iconic image of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani that has become a symbol of resistance to the boycott. That came after Spain’s Xavi Hernandez released a video message calling for an “end to the blockade against Qatar.”