Neymar's revelation that he did have contact with Manchester United during the summer transfer window is part of an overall strategy from the player and his family, giving the Brazilian star some extra leverage in contract discussions with Barcelona.
That's according to Sky Sports' Guilem Balague, who told Sky Sports News HQ he expects the saga to go on for months:
It’s part of the strategy of the Neymar family, his dad being the agent. Firstly to get a bigger contract with Barcelona. Barca want it to be signed now and Neymar’s family is saying let’s wait.
Secondly he feels at Barca he cannot be the number one in the world because Messi is there, which means we are going to have a saga for the next few months because he is not in a rush to sign a new contract.
Rumours surfaced during the summer that United were talking to the Barcelona star, per Shaun Custis of the Sun, and while plenty of fans and pundits were sceptical of the reports, Neymar told ESPN (h/t Liam Prenderville of the Daily Mirror) there was in fact contact between both parties, saying: "We had conversations, but there was nothing concrete."
The fact the Brazil international was in contact with the Red Devils is worrisome for the Blaugrana, even if it doesn't have to be the end of the world. As things stand, Neymar still looks likely to ply his trade in Catalonia for the foreseeable future, even if he stands somewhat in the shadow of Lionel Messi.
His father even claims the ongoing contract negotiations should't worry fans, as he told Deportes Cuatro (h/t Daily Mail's Luke Augustus) his son's current deal still runs for several more seasons and will be respected.
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique also doesn't want to place too much of an emphasis on the speculation:
There's a good chance Neymar did in fact reveal the talks at this particular time in order to gain leverage in contract negotiations, and while that wouldn't rule out a transfer to Old Trafford, we likely won't know the outcome of the negotiations for months.
Barcelona will be determined to keep the young forward at the club, and the promise of a major raise and the opportunity to become the club's biggest star once Messi decides to call it quits should suffice to keep Neymar in La Liga.
Should the negotiations fail, the second part of Balague's comments come into play. There are only a handful of clubs in the world who could realistically sign Neymar in the near future should the decision to leave Barcelona be made. Real Madrid have the finances, but it's highly unlikely the Catalans would agree to sell the young star to Los Blancos.
That leaves the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, along with a couple of Premier League clubs. United and Manchester City have made the most high-profile moves among English clubs in the past few years, and of those two, the Red Devils certainly make the most sense.
United would present Neymar with the opportunity to have a team built around him and lead the Red Devils back to the very top of football. It's easy to see why the English giants approached the Brazilian during the summer―they'd love to get their hands on such a prolific talent, particularly now, after a number of disappointing seasons.
All of that is contingent on Neymar leaving Barcelona, however, and as of right now, there's no reason to believe that will be the case.