Tito Vilanova
Tito Vilanova has again been forced to be absent from training in the past week as he received further treatment in New York. Reuters

Real Madrid are trying to hijack Barcelona’s proposed signing of Brazilian star Neymar, according to reports in Spain.

It has increasingly been considered a matter of when, rather than if, the Santos forward would move to Camp Nou, with stories even emerging of a €10 million down payment having been paid.

But Spanish radio station Cadena Ser has claimed that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez sent two officials to Brazil to try and agree on a deal for Neymar and prevent him from moving to their great rivals. Such is Perez’s determination to secure the 21-year-old and ensure a major coup ahead of presidential elections this summer that he is prepared to commit a staggering €120 million, according to Spanish publication El Mundo Deportivo.

Some of those funds would reportedly even have to go Barcelona as compensation following their down payment.

But, while Madrid may be prepared to offer both Santos and Neymar more money than Barcelona, the player remains committed to joining the Catalans, reports newspaper Sport. There also appears increasing momentum behind a move being completed this summer, rather than, as had long been suggested, after the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

Neymar’s arrival is likely to be hastened by Barcelona due to the lack of firepower to support Lionel Messi. David Villa is one of the players that has failed to become a consistent attacking threat in the Catalan’s side and the 31-year-old looks set to depart this summer.

El Mundo Deportivo reports that Villa was close to a move to Arsenal in January before Barcelona decided that they could not risk being left short for the remainder of the season, But, while Arsenal’s interest is believed to have waned, Barcelona are said to be prepared to allow Villa to leave for €10 million come the end of the campaign.

Barcelona’s attack is not the only area of the side that needs strengthening, however. Barcelona’s failure to sign an established central defender was bluntly exposed in their Champions League semifinal thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich.

The center-back that they wanted to sign last summer was Thiago Silva, but the former Milan star elected to honor his commitment to sign for Paris Saint-Germain.

Speculation has again emerged that the 28-year-old could arrive at Camp Nou this summer and the Brazil international’s agent has refused to rule out a move.

"A transfer for Thiago Silva seems to me difficult -- in his words -- and I think that in the end he will remain at PSG,” Paulo Tonietto said, according to Goal.com. “He has a contract and, before discussing with Barcelona, he should talk with PSG.” "Last year we discussed [a transfer] with Barcelona but in the end PSG acted very quickly by offering a lot of money, [resulting in] an agreement with Milan. This year, however, we have not closed the door to Barcelona, nor to other clubs."

There had been reports that a new central defender would replace veteran Carles Puyol. The 35-year-old has been linked with a move to Milan, but both Puyol and the Italian giants have poured cold water on those suggestions.

“All of the news that is coming out is false” Puyol said via his Twitter page. “I'm only focused on making a full recovery and being on top form for next season."

And Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani was similarly dismissive.

“There is nothing happening with Puyol,” he said, according to Marca. “I can assure you of that. Carles is a good friend of Milan. We know that he loves our shirt after Barca's, but I should stress that that we are not currently planning on signing veteran players, despite Puyol's worth. We're looking for youngsters. That will be our footballing philosophy for the coming seasons."