Neymar is getting ever closer to making a long-anticipated transfer to Barcelona, with only the finer points of a deal yet to be resolved, according to reports in Brazil. Santos are holding a meeting on Wednesday where they will discuss Barcelona’s offer for their star player and an announcement could be imminent, reports O Globo. The presence of the club’s president Alvaro Ribeiro, who has been absent from duties of late due to health problems, is seen as a signal of the importance of the discussions.
Local publication Folha de Sao Paulo reports that Barcelona have had an €18 million offer for the 21-year-old rejected. The Catalans, though, claim, that because Neymar has just a year remaining on his contract, the fee is justified based on his €65 million buyout clause. Santos would risk losing the forward for nothing next year. Yet, Barcelona have tried to sweeten their proposal by offering to play two friendlies against Santos, one at the Camp Nou and the other in Brazil, with Lionel Messi required to play in both. Barcelona argue that such matches would enable Santos to improve their international branding.
The situation of Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes has been used as an example in the negotiations. The 31-year-old goalkeeper, who has a year remaining on his contract, is valued at €25 million, but Barcelona are willing to allow him to leave for €8 million this summer.
Any deal is further complicated by the fact that Santos own just 55 percent of Neymar’s rights, with third parties DIS (40 percent) and Teisa (5 percent) owning the remainder. Barcelona will have to negotiate separately with the other parties. There is also still the matter of the player’s personal terms, which will be handled by his father.
Santos are now meeting to decide whether to accept Barcelona’s proposal. It is likely that the club are hoping to drive up the price with interest from other suitors, particularly Real Madrid. Reports in Spain over the past week have claimed that Madrid have put together a €100 million package for Neymar. There is also reported interested from Premier League teams Manchester City and Chelsea, for which money would not be a problem.
While it has long been said that Neymar would not move to Europe until after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, there now appears a growing willingness on all parties to get a deal done this summer. Santos do not want to risk losing out a massive pay day; Barcelona are in need of another leading attacking option to take some of the pressure off of Messi; Neymar himself may now believe that he needs the test of playing at the highest level in Europe to improve his game ahead of the World Cup, while the incessant speculation over his future is beginning to take its toll.
Neymar, who is the poster boy for Brazil heading into their first home World Cup since 1950, has refused to comment on the latest reports, stating that all negotiations are handled by his father.
Update (3.20 p.m. ET): Folha de Sao Paulo is reporting that Santos have rejected Barcelona's €18 million offer at their meeting on Wednesday. It is now believed that the Brazilian club will sit tight hoping for interest from other clubs, such as Real Madrid, to lead to increased offers.