Barcelona forward Neymar did not hold secret talks with archrivals Real Madrid at this year's Ballon d'Or ceremony, according to his father.
Neymar Sr. has denied reports in Spain stating he and his son met with Madrid officials in Zurich. Neymar's agent Wagner Ribeiro was also said to be in attendance during the alleged clandestine talks.
But speaking to Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo (h/t Goal), the player's father refuted the reports: "The meeting in Madrid is a silly invention. We were all together in the same hotel, the Barca and Madrid parties, and we greeted everyone, but the meeting is an invention."
Neymar's father also revealed the presence of a key Barcelona official, something he said makes any supposed meeting an impossibility: "Andre Cury [an agent who usually handles Barcelona's affairs in South America] is a Barca employee, so how are we going to meet with Madrid if he was there? It does not make any sense!"
The player's father also derided Ribeiro's authority in any negotiations involving his son: "I am the sole representative of Neymar and the only one who can negotiate. Me, not anyone else."
Will Neymar sign a new deal with Barcelona?
Speaking about the Brazilian forward's future with the Catalan club, Neymar Sr. insisted it lies at the Camp Nou: "Neymar is happy here and his will is to renew his contract at the end of the season. We are a bit fed up with this and just want to live in peace and enjoy the moment with Barcelona."
The issue of Neymar's future has been debated recently. Back in late-December, Sergi Font of Spanish publication Marca (h/t ESPN's Tom Doyle) revealed how Barca are prepared to triple the 23-year-old's wages to keep him at the club.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu has stated his desire to hand Neymar a new contract, according to Spanish source Sport (h/t ESPN FC). But mega-rich Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain are said to be preparing their own offer this summer, per French publication L'Equipe (h/t Ed Malyon of the Daily Mirror).
Keeping Neymar should be a priority for Barca. He's hit 20 goals in all competitions already this season, according to WhoScored.com.
The Brazilian was a key part of last season's treble-winning squad, supplementing the brilliance of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. Neymar saw team-mate Messi claim his fifth Ballon d'Or award in Zurich, but he looks like a strong candidate to win the prize himself in the years to come.
Barcelona would be wise to make sure Neymar is still their player when he does.