Barcelona striker Luis Suarez has dismissed speculation Neymar's tax controversy could force him to leave Spain and move to Manchester United, insisting he is "convinced" his team-mate will remain at the Camp Nou.
"I am convinced that Neymar will stay," Suarez said. "The club supports him and I am sure he will stay here for several years."
The forward's father, Neymar Sr., stirred speculation when he appeared in court this week in relation to the tax evasion and corruption claims surrounding his son. There, he was reported to have told the judge an unnamed club offered a staggering £144.4 million to sign the winger, per the Sun's Phil Cadden.
The Sun reported the tax controversy chasing Neymar had led the Red Devils to intensify their pursuit of the star, presumably under the impression he could become available, as shown by BBC Radio 4's Nick Sutton:
Neymar moved to Barcelona from Santos in 2013 for what was initially reported to be a fee of €57.1 million, with €40 million of that fee going to the player's parents and the remaining €17 million sent to his former club.
Would Neymar be worth a £144.4 million purchase for United.
However, in January 2014, Jamie Holland of the Irish Independent reported the actual value of the transfer to be €86.2 million, although Barca contended their initial statement to be correct, via the club's official website.
United have been frequently linked as one of the foremost Premier League parties interested in cutting a mega-money deal for Neymar, and his trouble with the Spanish courts leaves a seed of doubt regarding his future in La Liga.
The 23-year-old finished third in the 2015 Ballon d'Or voting, behind five-time winner Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and Spanish newspaper Sport recently detailed his contribution to Barca's goal count this term:
Barcelona have scored 105 goals this season, 80 scored by Luis Suárez (35), Messi (24) and Neymar (21).— SPORT English (@Sport_EN) February 3, 2016
United are in dire need of a genuine superstar signing at present, with too many of their current talents underperforming and manager Louis van Gaal failing to drum up widespread support from the club's fans.
Former Barca coach Pep Guardiola will take over Manchester City at the end of this season, intensifying speculation the Citizens could launch a bid for Neymar, but BBC Sport's Andy West stated the move won't materialise:
No, no, no...Pep Guardiola joining Manchester City does NOT mean they will now sign Messi and Neymar. Not going to happen.— Andy West (@andywest01) February 1, 2016
Neymar Sr.'s claim of a bid worth almost £150 million gives some indication of how much money a club would have to spend to poach the Selecao maestro from Catalonia should his tax concerns prove too severe to keep him in Spain.
Suarez has every reason to want to see his team-mate stay at the Camp Nou, but until Neymar moves past the financial concerns overshadowing his La Liga stay, United may feel they have a chance of landing his services.