Barcelona are eager to push through a deal to sign Brazilian star Neymar this summer, according to Andre Cury, an agent used for the club’s South American deals and also a close confidant of president Sandro Rosell.
The Santos forward has been repeatedly linked with Barcelona for some time, although no confirmation has come from any party involved. Speculation of an agreement already being in place to take Neymar to Camp Nou has previously been denied.
Talking to Brazilian radio station Radio Globo, though, Cury has said that it is well known within the club that signing Neymar is a priority.
"He is top of the wish list for planned signings and our players are aware of this," Cury said, according to ESPN. "At Barcelona we do not usually sign many players, and he is our first choice. When he decides to leave Santos, we will be ready.”
Neymar has repeatedly insisted that he will remain in Brazil until after the country hosts the World Cup in 2014, but there appears increasing momentum to try and get a deal done a year earlier.
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“If possible, we will start negotiations this summer,” Cury added. “Messi, Xavi and Iniesta are already awaiting him with open arms."
Although they are in the semifinals of the Champions League and poised to reclaim the Liga title, Barcelona have struggled in several games in the second half of the season.
One reason for Barcelona’s problems has been an over-reliance on Lionel Messi, which was exposed when the Argentinian came off the bench to rescue the side in their Champions League quarterfinal second leg with Paris Saint-Germain.
The likes of David Villa and Alexis Sanchez have failed to become consistent threats alongside Messi and one or both of those forwards could depart the club this summer, potentially making space for Neymar’s arrival.
Cury believes that signing the 21-year-old would greatly aid Tito Vilanova’s side.
“Neymar coming to Barcelona will put an end to two types of overdependence: dependence on Neymar at Santos, as he would have left, and overdependence on Messi at Barcelona, as we would then have another player at his level," Cury explained.
"In two or three years Messi will be able to pass on the Barcelona baton to Neymar, just like Ronaldinho passed it to him, even if this happened in a way that was not altogether pleasing to us -- Ronnie left the club and we would have liked him to have stayed."
As well as Cury’s comments, Spanish publication Sport has reported that Neymar’s father, who is also his representative, is in Barcelona to discuss a transfer. As for the player, he has again been coy about a possible move.
Who is not a fan of Barcelona?" he said, according to Goal.com. "I'm happy and I appreciate their affection and support. Regardless of whatever team I sign for, I'm one of the happiest people in the world.
"It’s what I’ve always said: When my family and I are ready, we will be happy to speak, but for now I ask for calm."
As well as Barcelona, Neymar has also been strongly linked to Real Madrid, Chelsea and Bayern Munich in the past. Manchester City were also reported to have met with his representatives in February.
When it does become clear that he is ready to leave Brazil there is sure to be a scrum for his signature, although Barcelona would appear to be in prime position having done plenty of groundwork on a potential future deal.