Three members of Barcelona’s hierarchy have returned from a summit with Tito Vilanova in New York, with one of the central agreements reached being a resolve to sign Santos star Neymar this summer, according to El Mundo Deportivo.
The Spanish publication reports that Andoni Zubizarreta, Narcis Julia and Albert Valentin traveled to meet with the Barcelona manager, while he continues to undergo cancer treatment, with the club’s summer transfer business the main topic on the agenda.
A goalkeeper and a central defender are said to be high on the list of priorities, as is a left-sided forward. It is widely believed that David Villa will be leaving the Camp Nou in the summer and the club is eager for a high quality replacement who can help support Lionel Messi in terms of goal-scoring.
Neymar, who has been trailed by Barcelona for some time, is claimed to be the leading target. Both the 21-year-old and Santos have repeatedly said that the player will stay put until at least the 2014 World Cup, but Barcelona are now believed to be determined to bring his departure date forward.
That would appear a difficult objective to realize. Following recent reports that Premier League champions Manchester City had offered a blank check in a meeting with Neymar and Santos’ representatives, the Brazilian club’s president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira said that no amount of money could pry Brazilian soccer’s leading star away from the club before 2014.
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Barcelona may hope that if Neymar doesn’t extend his contract beyond the next World Cup, that Santos will be forced to sell this summer to ensure they don’t lose the forward on a free.
If he does come onto the market, Barcelona are sure to face much competition for his signature. In addition to Manchester City, both Chelsea and Real Madrid are thought to be long-time admirers of Neymar. Manchester United are also said to have had a bid of £38 million rejected last summer.