The latest rumour regarding Brazilian starlet Neymar is as exciting as the previous ones, each seeming as probable as the other. At the moment, Neymar is said to have chosen Real Madrid over Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter Milan and a host of other clubs who met his release clause.
Adding to all this, Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro continues to harbor hope that his star will play on with the Brazilian side till 2012.
Earlier this week, Ribeiro had admitted that five clubs - rumoured to be Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester City and Anzhi Makhachkala - had agreed to meet the €45 million release clause, though he had expressed his hope that Neymar would stay on, on the day too.
He has now added Inter Milan to the list of clubs to have shown an interest in Neymar, though if rumours are to be trusted, he is on the verge of a move to Madrid.
Spanish paper Marca has reported that the 19-year-old striker, currently on International duty with Brazil, told his team-mate Dani Alves, who plays for Madrid's arch-rivals Barcelona at club level, that I don't know anything about Barcelona. I will play for Madrid next season.
Ribeiro, however, still hopes Neymar can stay with the Brazilian side till the Club World Cup at Japan. He told RAC1, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan - all the big clubs are interested in Neymar because he is an exceptional player, but my intention is that he will stay with us at least until we meet Barcelona in the final.
We don't want to lose him until the centenary (Santos were founded in April 1912) but it all depends on him, on what he wants to do. Remember that there is a release clause in his contract. It's obvious given all the interest that the release clause is small in comparison to the player's true value.
He went on to confirm that he had spoken to his counterparts at Barcelona (Sandro Rosell) and Madrid (Florentino Perez).
I asked Sandro not to make contact with Neymar or his father before the Copa Libertadores final, but then I had to tell him to make his move because the other European clubs were already moving, he said. Sandro is a gentleman, very friendly, a great professional and a great president.
I spoke to Florentino directly and Real Madrid expressed an interest in the player. That's public.