Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has revealed that Manchester City made a firm offer for Neymar this summer before the forward sealed his move from Santos to the Camp Nou. According to the Daily Star, both City and Chelsea made “huge” offers to entice him to the Premiership but the lure of Barcelona was too much for the Brazilian to resist.
Rosell is quoted as saying:
I spoke with his father when we met in Miami and we closed the deal there.
There were four parties that owned his rights as part of the agreement and we had to agree with all of those, but in the end we closed the deal for €57.5m (£48.6m).
The key was that the player wanted to come to Barcelona.
Everything was based on that despite offers he had from Man City, Chelsea, Bayern and Real Madrid.
So what would Neymar have brought to City?
There isn’t an awful lot he can’t do. As he has shown for his national side time and time again, he can dribble like few other players in world football, offering a direct style that defences struggle to cope with. He beats players with ease, creates space for others and lays on goals for his teammates.
Watching him in full flow is special.
Since his move to Barcelona, he’s shown he’s more than just a skillful player from out wide, adapting seamlessly to Barcelona’s passing game. In the absence of Lionel Messi, who has missed the last two games, he’s stepped up and carried Barca in an attacking sense, and it seems his undoubted raw talent will be polished nicely in Catalonia.
His recent performance in the Champions League against Celtic was mesmerising, all close control and quick feet. There were times when it seemed impossible for the Celtic players to get close to him, let alone dispossess him. Comfortable with both feet, he cuts in from the left and runs at the heart of the defence, creating panic every time he’s in possession.
However, the Celtic game also demonstrated the ugly side of his game; a side that needs to change. His tendency to make the most of innocuous challenges in order to get other players carded is unacceptable, and Barcelona—a club obsessed with their image and appeal—will surely be working hard to stamp it out of him.
In terms of ability, though, there are few complaints. His adaptability means that, had he come to City, he could have operated in numerous positions across the forward line. In the 4-2-3-1 formation, he could play on the left of the three, or in the centre behind the striker, and in the 4-2-2-2 he could play wide on the left or as a forward.
He would have brought options as well as creativity to City's attack.
Although City were never going to be able to compete with Barcelona for Neymar’s signature, indulging in some fanciful thinking makes you wonder what kind of impact he could have made at the Etihad and, indeed, the Premier League.
Alongside the likes of David Silva and Sergio Aguero, Neymar would have excelled, and raised the games of those around him. He's already one of the best players on the planet, and at 21 he's only going to improve, making his £48.6 million transfer fee seem like a bargain.
City have plenty at their disposal, but would undoubtedly have been improved by his arrival.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.