The Brazilian is said to have undergone a trial as a 14-year-old, impressing enough among the Madrid youth team to be offered a contract.
However, the move was never made official because Madrid had just seen the departure of president Florentino Perez. Football Espana provides the context:
In the wake of Florentino Perez’s departure as President just a month before, those overseeing the deal—Ramon Martinez as technical secretary and Carlos Martinez de Albornoz as director general—did not want to take responsibility for signing the 14-year-old for that (€60,000) fee.
Neymar has gone on to earn 40 caps for Brazil in his blossoming career, winning the Player of the Tournament award at the recent Confederations Cup, which was won by the South Americans.
Barcelona have eased the imaginative attacker into life at Camp Nou, starting Neymar from the bench in some of his opening games. He has, though, already scored a crucial goal to help the Spanish giants win the Super Cup against Atletico Madrid.
Neymar is first scheduled to come up against Real Madrid when Barcelona host their archrivals on October 26 in the first Clasico of the campaign.
Both teams have won their opening three matches of the season and already appear to be setting up a fascinating duel for the title.