Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi has flown home from Brazil after Santos rejected the Catalans’ latest offer for Neymar. Following negotiations for a player they have trailed for at least two years, Barcelona made a bid, reportedly of between €20 million and €23 million, as well as a proposal for two high-profile friendly matches between the two sides. But during a meeting with the club’s board on Wednesday, Santos again said no.
"Santos will examine the offer received, but it does not meet our requirements,” Santos vice-president Odilio Rodrigues said, according to Spanish publication Marca. “It was not accepted. We only have one offer on the table and the Administration Committee does not believe that it is in our interest."
Santos’ position is complicated by the fact that they own just 55 percent of Neymar’s rights and so would be entitled to only that percentage of Barcelona’s offer. They also know that Barcelona’s bid falls a long way short of the player’s €65 million buyout clause.
Yet, they are also under pressure to sell given that the poster boy of Brazilian soccer is entering the final year of his contract and will be able to discuss a pre-contract agreement with another club in six months’ time. Santos risk allowing a global star, in who’s development they played a big part, leave for nothing. And Neymar’s father, who acts as the player’s representative, was keen to remind Santos of that fact.
“I know nothing about the figures being talked about, because I do not participate in the negotiations,” he said. “I just asked for a response from Santos and Santos said they will not sell the player. Life goes on, life goes on. The player can leave in a year and in six months can agree a pre-contract. Saints should be thinking about this.”
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Neymar, himself, again refused to be drawn on the latest discussions. “I know you have a thousand questions to ask me, but I will leave this to my father,” he said, according to Mundo Deportivo. The 21-year-old is believed to have his heart set on joining the Nou Camp and is thought to be increasingly of the belief that he would benefit from making the move this summer rather than after next year’s World Cup.
But, while Barcelona have are widely reported to have already made a down payment on the transfer, Santos appear to be hoping that a bidding war will start for the player. Real Madrid are reportedly interested and willing to spend big to take him from under their fierce rivals’ noses. Premier League sides Manchester City and Chelsea also have the finances to be able to put together a package to satisfy Santos and pay a penalty fee to Barcelona.
Barcelona are from giving up the hunt for Neymar, though, and remain hopeful of a resolution, according to Spanish newspaper Sport. With Neymar seemingly unwilling to force through a move, it is clear that the ball is now in Santos’s court.