Manchester City are pushing ahead with their efforts to sign Neymar, but face a battle from Barcelona. The Santos striker would appear to have his choice of clubs should he leave Brazil with reports in outlets such as Marca suggesting he favours the Nou Camp.
The Daily Express says Manchester City’s sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, met with the player and former Barca president Joan Laporta in London. After what was no doubt a fine dining experience, Laporta told Catalunya Radio:
My dream is to see Neymar playing for FC Barcelona like Ronaldinho, Romario, Rivaldo and Ronaldo did in the past.”
However, other reports claim that City will open their wallet – to the tune of more than £50million according to The Mirror – after meeting with Neymar’s European agent, Pini Zahavi, again over a culinary date.
While his potential on the pitch has been well documented, Neymar is also a valuable commodity to any club with his standing growing as a global superstar of tomorrow.
Indeed, such stardom has ensured that only a handful of clubs have the financial machinery to manufacture a deal. The choice is now down to Neymar and his father, who exerts his influence over his son’s career. Laporta alluded to this, saying:
Neymar’s father is nervous because every big club in Europe want his son and that is stressful. But when I saw him he comes across as a quiet man who is trying to stay calm and do the best for his son.”
And, while such meetings are clouded in secrecy, it’s unlikely that the issue of who secures his signature did not present itself over the menu or maybe the wine.
Depending on what source you read – and trust – Barca believe they have a written agreement with Santos to pay £8.6m up front as part of a £34m package. But, that counts for little according to the Daily Star, which states that City have been told the route is still open to drive forward with their offer.
Neymar has long been rumored to be close to leaving South America, but has yet to be tempted with the splendor of European football. This summer could change that.