Negotiations over the future of Brazilian star Neymar are continuing as Barcelona try to lure the forward from Santos this summer. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid are believed to have met with Santos officials in recent days to discuss a transfer for the 21-year-old. For his part, Neymar has continued to claim he has no knowledge of any transfer dealings, while reiterating that he will stay in Brazil until after next year’s World Cup.
The situation is complicated by the fact that Neymar has just a year remaining on his contract, meaning Santos stand to make nothing from any deal in 2014. As a result, Spanish publication Marca claims that the club are keen to sell the player this summer. Speaking on Monday, Neymar denied that he was acting without thought for the club which he joined as a 11-year-old in 2003.
“There are two versions,” he said, according to Spanish publication AS. “When I signed a renewal, everyone congratulated me on this contract until 2014. Now that I’m reaching the end of this contract, everyone says that I’m self-interested. We’re going to do things the best we can for both sides, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
While Madrid are said to have put together a package of €100 million for Neymar, the player is believed to have decided that his future lies at the Camp Nou. Brazilian publication Globo Esporte has also reported that Santos sources have confirmed that Barcelona made a down payment on the transfer as far back as 2011. Still, Neymar has denied knowledge of the presence of Santos vice-president Odilio Rodrigues in Spain as well as Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi’s purported visit to Brazil.
“I don’t know. He has to talk to my father, he’s the one who knows about these things,” he added. “I don’t know anything because I haven’t spoken to my father.”
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There are plenty of contrasting takes on the saga. Brazilian outlet O Globo has claimed that Neymar will play his last game for Santos on Sunday, against Flamengo, with a move to Barcelona in July already agreed.
Neymar is not the only Brazil international that Barcelona are said to be interested this summer, with Thiago Silva still thought to be firmly on the Catalans’ radar. The Blaugrana failed with an approach for the central defender last year before he made a move to Paris Saint-Germain, but there have been strong reports in Spain that Barcelona are confident of landing him this time around.
Much of the belief that Thiago Silva would be available comes from the increasing likelihood that PSG’s manger, Carlo Ancelotti, and potentially sporting director, Leonardo, will be leaving the French champions. Leonardo, though, has said that the 28-year-old will not be leaving regardless of Ancelotti’s future.
“Neither Ibra [Zlatan Ibrahimovic] or Thiago Silva will leave if Ancelotti departs,” the Brazilian told L’Equipe.
Thiago Silva’s agent has also played down suggestions that his client will be on the move.
“There's zero chance that he will leave this summer,” Paulo Tonietto said, according to Goal.com. “PSG do not want to sell him. He's an important part of their project and he will stay put regardless of what will happen with Ancelotti.”
With Barcelona in need of a leading central defender, there have also been strong links to Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels. Like Thiago Silva, though, the Germany international looks set to be staying put. When asked by German publication Kicker whether Saturday’s Champions League final would be his last match, he responded by saying “Of course not.”
“I've not had any contact with Barcelona or any other club," he explained. "I don't think it's my duty to dismiss rumors which other people invent. If there was to be any truth in them, I would say so. If I say there is nothing behind the speculation, then people should believe me."