Brazilian wonderkid Neymar’s move from Santos to Europe looks more likely to come to fruition during the current transfer window, as five European clubs have met the £40.3m release clause set in the quicksilver forward’s contract.
The five clubs include Real Madrid and Chelsea, both of whom have been heavily linked with the talented forward and were thought to be leading the race for the player.
Yet they have been joined in the race by European champions Barcelona, looking to add another fleet-footed forward to their ranks (Alexis Sanchez, the Chile winger, is also in talks with Los Cules), big-spending Manchester City, preparing for their first Champions League campaign, and Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, the outsiders of the quintet, but who will hope their current Brazilian contingent – including captain Roberto Carlos, the legendary left-back – and their financial muscle may be enough to entice Neymar to Russia.
Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro has confirmed that the five clubs are now set to hold talks with Neymar.
“We don’t want to sell the player, but of course there is a release clause in his contract that can be paid and five European clubs have offered to match the clause,” Ribeiro told ESPN Brasil.
“I cannot name them because there is an agreement between Santos and the clubs, but they are the most important European clubs.
“They have asked to speak to the player and obviously we’ve allowed them to.
“The clubs have behaved ethically. They sought out Santos first and were willing to pay the clause. With this ethical approach, they can talk to anyone – with Neymar’s father, with [agent] Wagner Ribeiro, and with the representatives of Neymar.”
The 19-year-old is currently with his national side for the Copa America, where he is expected to be a key component in Mano Menezes side, alongside his Santos and Copa Libertadores-winning team mate Ganso, so a deal will likely only be completed at the conclusion of the tournament, taking place in Argentina (July 1 – July 24).