Barcelona striker Neymar will stay at the club and reject a potential world record £196 million transfer to Paris St-Germain after his teammates Lionel Messi and Luiz Suarez persuaded him not to leave.
Persistent speculation in the past couple of weeks have linked the Brazilian to PSG, and Neymar himself has remained quiet on the subject, all of which has led to suspicions that a deal could be imminent.
But it has emerged that Neymar is to stay at Barcelona – and his teammates are responsible for convincing him that the grass is not greener in Paris, according to reports from Spanish newspaper Sport.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are reported to have had a long chat with Neymar on Saturday night at the Sheraton in New Jersey, where Barcelona were staying on their pre-season tour of the US.
The three – who are all friends off the pitch – talked at length, with Messi and Suarez explaining how he couldn’t be at a better place than Barcelona.
Sport reports that their arguments were good enough to persuade Neymar to stay.
In addition, another teammate has taken to social media about Neymar. Defender Gerard Pique posted a picture of the two on Twitter, saying ‘Se queda’, which translates as ‘stays’.
Barcelona’s vice-president has dismissed speculation that striker Neymar could move to Paris St-Germain in a world-record move this summer.
Reports in Spanish daily Marca speculated that PSG were willing to activate the euro222 million (£196.7 million) release clause in Neymar’s contract, after it was said that the Brazilian wanted to be the star of a team. Of course, at Barcelona, he remains in the shadow of fellow striker Lionel Messi.
However, the Ligue Un side said it would only bid if Neymar himself indicates that he wants to move to France.
But Barca have moved quickly to quell the speculation. The club’s vice-president, Jordi Mestre, was asked in a news conference if he could confirm that Neymar would be at the Camp Nou come the start of the 2017-18 season and said “200 percent”.
Manchester United and Manchester City are on alert after it was revealed that Barcelona forward Neymar’s father had advised his son to quit Barcelona and move to the Premier League.
Neymar Snr believes that his son needs to move to England in order to move out of the shadow of his strike partners at the Nou Camp, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez and establish himself as the number one striker in the world.
This could spark a bidding war between the Manchester clubs – both Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are known to be fans of the Brazilian international – and the talk is that the bidding may exceed £100 million.
Neymar has scored 24 goals for Barcelona this season – but he is still behind Suarez (28 goals) and Messi (35) in the scoring charts. In all, Neymar has scored 104 goals in 184 appearances for Barca since joining from Santos in 2013.
Both Manchester clubs are looking for marquee signings this summer, after relatively disappointing league campaigns, where City finished a distant third to champions Chelsea, and United ended up in 6th – although they did with the EFL Cup and are in the final of the Europa League.
Manchester United are rumoured to be planning to meet the euro200 million (£173 million) release clause in Neymar’s contract and launch a summer bid for the Brazilian star.
As well as meeting the eye-popping release clause – which dwarfs the current world record transfer fee of £89 million, which United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba last year – United are said to be willing to offer Neymar £415,000 per WEEK after tax.
Spanish newspaper Sport is behind this claim, adding that United have already ‘promised’ Neymar that they will bid for him in the summer.
However, no sources are quoted, so this story has to be taken with a large pinch of salt. Plus, there are few indications that Neymar wants to leave the Camp Nou, having only signed an improved contract last year.
In all, 40 players have been chosen by UEFA.com staff writers on the basis of their performances for a European club or national side in 2014. UEFA.com users will have until 13.00CET on 6 January to cast their vote, with the final lineup to be announced on 9 January on UEFA.com, and included in the January edition of Champions Matchday, the official UEFA Champions League magazine.