Barcelona have stepped up their pursuit of Brazil star Neymar after director Raul Sanllehi met the player’s father and representative during the Selecao’s recent friendly with Italy in Geneva, according to Spanish publication El Mundo Deportivo.
Sanllehi is said to have continued to lay the groundwork for a prospective transfer with his positive talks with Neymar senior and agent Andre Curi.
Santos forward Neymar has been linked with almost all of Europe’s top clubs at one time or another in recent years, but it is Barcelona who are thought to be in pole position for his signature. There have even been denied reports that an agreement was already in place.
However, stories emerged recently that Manchester City director of football, and former holder of the same post at Barcelona, Txiki Begiristain had a meeting in London last month to discuss signing the player with Neymar’s representatives.
Those reports appear to have sparked Barcelona to increase their efforts to land the 21-year-old.
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Neymar’s contract with Santos is set to expire in the summer of 2014 and it has always been thought that he will stay put until that time, when Brazil will also be hosting the World Cup. But Santos will not want to lose the sensation for free and are thought to have offered him a new contract.
There remains the possibility, though, that Neymar could be persuaded to move on this summer. Barcelona would certainly be keen on such a scenario, with David Villa looking set to leave Campo Nou and Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez struggling this season.
For Neymar too, there is a growing sense that he may be better served by a season under his belt in top level competition in Europe before trying to lead Brazil to World Cup glory.
When he does decide to leave, the offers are sure to pour in from across Europe. In recent times, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have also been linked with moves.
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, when recently asked how many clubs would go in for Neymar, commented, “To my knowledge, everyone,” according to El Mundo Deportivo.
Neymar, who is already one of world soccer’s top earners, has repeatedly insisted that he is in no rush to move to Europe and test himself in the Champions League. He did, though, recently name three clubs that would one day entice him into a big-money transfer.
“I dream of playing in Europe, for a big club like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea,” he revealed, according to ESPN.