With the season barely started, the latest potboiler to emanate from the Camp Nou in Barcelona is underway, namely the contract renewals – or otherwise – of its talented stars Messi and Neymar, whose contract finishes in three years time.
Sometime between now and 2018, Barcelona are going to be moving heaven and earth to make sure they get the signatures of both players on contract extensions. Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a long journey.
This Neymar to United story (and in the future, to City, PSG, and Chelsea) will run and run not least because for those clubs with money, by which I mean REAL money, (Real Madrid, PSG, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United), if there was the slightest chance of signing either of the two players, but particularly Neymar bearing in mind he is only 23-years-old, then they would snap it up in a heartbeat.
Not surprisingly therefore, Neymar’s people have already fired the first shots across the Barcelona bows helping offer to media the ‘revelation’ that Manchester United are interested in the player -maybe not for this summer though, or so the stories say. Why do they come out now?
It is all nonsense of course and certainly something that will have come as a bit of a surprise to United. Ed Woodward was in Barcelona for a short, slightly bizarre meeting a week ago, the main purpose of which seemed to be to express some interest in Pedro, but not with much enthusiasm. Perhaps he was trying to get the player’s price reduced or at least delay payment. It’s fair to assume that had they really wanted the player, a little more enthusiasm would not have gone amiss.
In the end they offered 28 plus two million, so when Chelsea came in and offered the full amount (27 plus 3), Pedro was left in no doubt just where he would be more appreciated.
What is certain however is that the name of Neymar was never mentioned during Mr Woodward’s brief stopover in the Catalan capital, although I’m reliably informed he did enjoy a tour of the Barcelona museum afterwards.
So, where do the Neymar stories come from?
Within the next few hours, if it hasn’t appeared already, expect to see splash headlines appearing in the Brazilian paper El Globo revealing exclusively that Neymar will fulfil a lifetime’s ambition by playing in the Premier League if he decides to join Manchester United who will offer a jaw-dropping 190 million euros for him. That is a leak from the Neymar family, who looks after his interests.
What we are seeing now is the first episode of what is going to be a long and drawn out saga because what they have at the moment is that most valuable of commodities – time. Barcelona will want to put the matter to bed as soon as possible. Neymar’s people on the other hand will be looking to take it to the wire because the closer the player comes to the end of his deal, the more nervous the club will get about the potential threat of losing one of its major assets.
It’s all about dosh of course, and those stories in the press are preparing the ground and attempting with whatever means they have at their disposal to squeeze out the absolute maximum in what will certainly be a stratospheric new deal for the player who wants the next contract to give him the status he thinks he deserves as one of the top three players in the world.
I’m fairly confident that at the end of the day Neymar will put pen to paper, but mark my words, until he does we’re going to have some fun. Eat your heart out, Hollywood. Then the club are going to have to do it all again with Leo Messi.