With Neymar in London this week for Brazil’s friendly against England, there has been much speculation that the Santos star could snub reported interest from Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich for the Premier League. Both Manchester United and Chelsea have been strongly linked to the player in the past.
One of the more interesting stories in recent days, though, has involved interest from Manchester City. Spanish publication El Mundo Deportivo has reported on an alleged meeting in London on Tuesday between City sporting director Txiki Begiristain, Neymar da Silva (Neymar's father), and Andre Curi, a agent close to Santos. Also said to be at the gathering was the man thought to be Neymar’s international agent, Pini Zahavi, as well as former Barcelona president Joan Laporta.
According to the report, the meeting involved City offering a blank check in order to attain Neymar.
Despite such an astounding offer, Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro has stated that no amount of money could temp then into selling their prized asset at this stage.
"I anticipate my answer to any bids that might come: the answer is no," he said, according to Goal.com. "Neymar will stay at Santos until 2014, and I hope that he'll continue here for even longer."
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Ribeiro also proceeded to say that Neymar was happy to remain with the club and has even previously rejected offers from Barcelona and Real Madrid.
"I have a very clear base to why Neymar stayed here, resisting offers from the Spanish clubs [Barcelona and Real Madrid, in 2011], for one basic reason: he's happy,” he added.
"He costs us a relatively modest amount of money, given his talent. His presence translates into intangible gains, like our fan base growing 20 percent in the last two years."
Santos’ stance may in large part be due to the fact that much of Neymar’s economic rights are owned by third parties, while his wages are heavily subsidized by sponsors.
Interestingly, the Daily Star published a story this week claiming that Chelsea have been trying to utilize Pini Zahavi, supposedly at the meeting in London, to bring Neymar to Stamford Bridge. Zahavi is thought to have close links to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
The Star also claims that Chelsea’s Brazilian contingent—Oscar, David Luiz and Ramires—have been trying to persuade their international teammate to join them at the club.
Neymar has said that when he makes his long-anticipated move from Santos to Europe, it will not necessarily be to Barcelona or Real Madrid, as has been widely reported.
The prodigy, who turned 21 this week, has repeatedly said that he will decide his future after the 2014 World Cup when he is expected to move to a European giant. Spain, with its greater cultural and climatic similarities to Brazil than much of Europe, has long been viewed as his likely destination. At one stage it was even reported that an agreement had already been struck with Barcelona.
The Brazil international, though, has said that he is open to all possibilities.
"I dreamed to play in Europe since I was a child, but it is important I feel good and adapt with the rest of the team," he told German news agency SID.
"[The transfer] doesn't have to be Spain necessarily."
Recent reports have claimed that Neymar will link up with Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich next season and he has claimed that the scenario is something that he can envisage.
"All leagues are interesting in the end, including the Bundesliga," he explained.
"Bayern are a big club with extraordinary players. Playing for Bayern is something I could imagine doing. There is nothing that speaks against this.”