Neymar, a 21-year-old Brazil international forward, is perhaps the most sought-after young talent in world football. But despite the worldwide attention surrounding his future, his next move largely remains in the realm of speculation.
Here's what we know for sure, along with what we think we know.
On Friday, Santos announced that it had accepted two bids for the player's transfer. Santos also announced on the official club website that Neymar would decide his future in the coming days (links here and here, both in Portuguese).
Beyond those facts, speculation reigns.
As the Daily Mail reports, most observers assume that the teams behind the bids are Barcelona and Real Madrid. This makes sense. Barca and Real are two of the world's richest clubs, and both have been linked with Neymar literally for years, as detailed by Spanish online newspaper El Confidencial (h/t talkSPORT) and ESPN.
No matter which club he joins, Neymar will generate plenty of publicity. His courtship has been a drawn-out process, with several clubs involved. As the AP reports (h/t Sports Illustrated):
The player officially rejected a €35 million offer from Chelsea in 2010, and a year later Santos said five European teams contacted the club to try to sign the youngster, who eventually re-signed with Santos until the 2014 World Cup, with a buyout clause of €65 million ($84 million).
Bayern Munich reportedly also was trying to sign the 21-year-old forward, who is touted as the future of Brazilian football and the main player carrying the country's hopes to win the 2014 World Cup at home.
Mundo Deportivo has reported that Barcelona and Neymar already have a deal in place, as has ESPN. Brazilian paper O Globo published a similar report earlier this week; soon after that, Diario AS quoted a Barcelona source as saying the agreement did not yet exist.
The AS report also hinted at what could be a complicated negotiation process. Neymar's release clause is reportedly set at €65 million, and his rights are reportedly shared by three parties: Santos (55 percent), DIS (40 percent) and Teisa (five percent).
More rumors abound over the transfer fees and wage packets offered by the two mystery clubs.
Real Madrid offered a massive transfer fee for Neymar and also more salary than Barcelona, but Neymar still opted for the Catalan club.— Santo (@Zizouology) May 25, 2013
Sounds like Barcelona have finally agreed on a price for Neymar. I read 30 million euros... More to come....— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) May 24, 2013
"I do not know if in the end (Neymar) will sign with Barca. That only he knows," Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was quoted as saying this week, according to Marca. "I know this is a player who has very different individual solutions. It is clear that for Barcelona he would be a wonderful hire."
At this point in the process, even that seems to be a matter of speculation. Neymar will eventually join a new club, but for now, we can only wait to see how the facts sort themselves out.
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