Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has aimed a jibe at La Liga rivals Real Madrid by revealing they were trying to sign Neymar right until the Spanish champions made the deal official.
Neymar was announced as a Barcelona player on May 27 of this year—three days after Santos revealed two offers had been made for the Brazil international.
The final fee was reported by BBC Sport to be €57 million. Madrid president Florentino Perez later attempted to justify his club’s failure to land the player by telling Cadena SER that Real would have been charged three times that figure, according to Goal.com.
Rosell, though, told TV3’s Hat-trick programme that Madrid were desperate to land the player, even to the stage where Barca joked about using their rival’s medical results, viaESPNFC's Spain Correspondent Dermot Corrigan:
When we reached a pre-agreement with Neymar’s father, the player had already passed a medical with Real Madrid.
We joked that we could save ourselves the money of doing the tests ourselves. When we were already signing the contract, Madrid was sending emails to Santos.
Madrid eventually presented Gareth Bale as their world-record transfer, a move that appeared to be—to some degree—a response to Barcelona’s capture of Neymar.
Both sides have won their opening three games of the season, and Neymar scored the goal that helped Barca lift the Spanish Super Cup.
The introduction of the Brazilian has forced Andres Iniesta to accept a bench spot at times, starting three of five games so far.
Iniesta only has two seasons to run on his current contract, but the 29-year-old Spain international is on the cusp of a new deal at Camp Nou, according to Rosell via Team Talk.
"Iniesta is a key player for us. It is likely that the next great news for Barcelona will be the renewal of Iniesta's contract."
The diminutive playmaker has made over 300 appearances for Barcelona and has won six league titles and three European Cups, in addition to a World Cup and two European Championships.