LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 27: Neymar of Brazil is chased down by Barry Bannan of Scotland during the International friendly match between Brazil and Scotland at Emirates Stadium on March 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Interesting news out of Brazil this morning. According to FC Santos, no less than five major European release clubs have met a £40M release clause for 19-year-old Copa Libertadores winner Neymar, who is widely regarded as one of the foremost young talents in the world...
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. 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.
-Luis Alvaro Oliveira Ribeiro, Santos president. Source: Daily Mail.
The Daily Mail is reporting the teams involved as Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Anzhi Makhachkala. To be honest, this is the first time I've heard Neymar's release clause price, and although he's been associated with a figure of around £40M for a while I still can't imagine it's true - there's no way Barcelona, for example, could afford such a huge layoff with their pursuit of Alexis Sanchez/Cesc Fabregas/what have you.
I simply don't believe that five teams would have met that figure for Neymar, which is leading me to suspect that something's been mis-reported somewhere. Still, Chelsea are apparently in for him (so much for this being a done deal, eh?), which is interesting but alarming at the figure quoted. I really don't know what to make of this 'news' at all.
There was some talk of Neymar wanting to stay in Brazil to become a pioneer in showing that the best player in the world doesn't have to play in Europe yesterday. To me, that's pretty clearly posturing, and presumably those quotes came out after his agent knew that the release clause was active - he's just trying to put leverage on the clubs to give Neymar more money. He's almost certainly coming to Europe, very soon. I just have no idea if it will be to Stamford Bridge, and judging by the prices being bandied around I'd have to say I hope not.