Odds on Where Neymar Ends Up in the Summer Transfer Window
It has been one of the biggest talking points in world football for quite some time now, and we are no closer to being given an answer to the conundrum.
The eventual destination of Neymar when he chooses to move on from Santos intrigues fans the world over. Some may be unconvinced by his potential brilliance, but the hype draws interest from all quarters.
The player himself has always insisted that he will only leave Brazilian football following the 2014 World Cup, and indeed, there are many commercial contracts already relying on his presence at that event.
There have been recent suggestions, though, that the player may consider an earlier move (h/t Eurosport). For now, only time will tell if that will be the case.
With that in mind, then, let's take a look at where the Santos star may be plying his trade come the end of the summer transfer window.
Ever since the early days of Neymar's emergence in Brazilian football, Barcelona have been among the rumoured front-runners for his signature. They are now the comfortable leaders of the chase.
Reports this week in Catalan magazine Sport once more suggested the existence of a prearranged deal for a €45 million transfer (h/t Mirror). While those claims should be treated cautiously, there is clearly confidence in and around the Camp Nou that Neymar will eventually be heading in their direction.
The Spanish club's Brazilian full-back, Dani Alves, has been particularly vocal in trying to attract his international colleague to join him this summer, but the rumoured agreement is said to be in place for after the 2014 World Cup (ESPN).
There have been comments from Neymar both praising Barcelona and indicating that he would be open to a number of moves (Goal). Those in the Catalan press are convinced, but their confidence should be looked at with scepticism.
Chances of 2013 move: Decent, should he choose to move
FC Bayern Munich
Ever since the January announcement that former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola would be taking over the reigns at the Allianz Arena next season, Bayern Munich have been heavily tipped as a major player in the race for Neymar.
The player himself has spoken positively of the German side's supposed interest (Goal) and is known to be a longtime admirer of Guardiola's management style (Marca). Money, too, would not be an issue for the Bavarian giants.
There have been newspaper reports of a £200 million transfer spree that would focus on recruiting the likes of Luis Suarez and Neymar (Daily Mail). It would be a major statement of intent should they enter the market with that type of financial power.
Given recent developments, Bayern would appear the most realistic challengers to Barcelona for the Santos wunderkind.
Chances of 2013 move: Outside chance of success
Talk of Manchester City interest in Neymar has also been longstanding, but has moved forward since the Eastlands club's appointment of former Barcelona directors Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano in 2012.
The duo are said to have travelled to Brazil in December to meet Santos over a potential deal for Neymar (Goal), while it was reported in February that talks had taken place with the player's representatives over a possible move (Daily Mail).
Manchester City have spent their way to the top of the English game but will know that they still have some way to go in terms of growing the club as a brand. A signing like Neymar could potentially take the club to new levels of commercial growth.
Finances will not be a hindrance to any potential deal. Instead, the question will be whether Neymar has interest in moving to the 2012 Premier League champions. City have money to match their rivals but lack in prestige.
At the moment it remains a long shot but, with Roberto Mancini pushing for major investment this summer, it is unlikely that they will allow Neymar to move without one final attempt for his capture.
Chances of 2013 move: Highly unlikely, barring miracles
Other European Side
There have been several other European sides linked to Neymar's signature over the past two years, but they would appear to have fallen behind in the running at present.
In England, both Manchester United and Chelsea have been previously linked with offers for the Santos youngster but would appear to have alternative targets at present. It is unlikely then that either would sanction a move for Neymar given their desire to use resources elsewhere.
As ever, given their well-known financial strength, Paris Saint-Germain will continue to be linked with a possible move for the Santos star. There has been no concerted speculation for the time being, but it should also be remembered that Neymar's agent also took Lucas to the Parc des Princes last summer.
Chances of 2013 move: Would be a massive shock
The obvious answer to the dilemma is that Neymar will remain with his current employers at Santos for at least another year. It has been the official party line for some time and there is little reason to doubt the honesty of the claims.
Only last month, the Brazilian side ruled out a Neymar exit ahead of the 2014 World Cup (Mirror), while the player himself has also always maintained his ambition to stay at the club until after that event (Sky Sports).
There are many arguments on a professional level for him making a move to Europe, but on a personal level his reluctance is understandable. He has a young son in Santos, is earning good money and is busy writing his name into his club's record books.
Many of his sponsors and financial backers are banking on him playing domestically in Brazil come the World Cup, and, in that respect, there will be pressure on him to remain.
Neymar will once more be free to make his own choices and the player himself has been the undoubted driving force behind staying put so far. Given all that, it would be little surprise to see him spend yet another summer rejecting European advances.
Chances of 2013 move: The most likely end to a summer of speculation
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!