Barcelona starlet Neymar is reportedly ready to finally sign a new contract with the Blaugrana despite Manchester United's longstanding interest.
That’s according to COPE (h/t Goal), which claimed the Brazil skipper is set to pen a lucrative three-year extension with the European champions having come to a “pre-agreement” with his current employers.
As reported by Paul Vinnell of Sky Sports, the player’s father recently told COPE the Red Devils made a £140 million bid for Neymar last summer.
As noted by Goal, the player’s contract has been subject to longstanding delays, prompting some concerns among the Barcelona fanbase that Neymar could well be on his way. Indeed, the sum apparently offered by the Red Devils last summer is said to be close to the player’s release clause.
Still, it’s clear Neymar is content with life at the Nou Camp, where he is well on his way to becoming the finest player on the planet. Here is a look back at some of his memorable moments this term:
In truth, although strong rumours have been swirling since the summer, it’s not a deal that ever really looked completely feasible for the Red Devils.
You have to admire their ambition, which is in itself a quality that’s allowed the club to pursue and secure some of the biggest names in world football down the years. But United in their current state on the field are no longer the most attractive proposition, especially when compared with a club like Barcelona.
Harry Sherlock of Goal UK certainly doesn’t feel as though the Red Devils are in a position to compete for the top players in the world anymore:
If Manchester United genuinely think they can sign Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar then they're beyond parody. #MUFC— Harry Sherlock (@Harry_Sherlock) December 12, 2015
It’s tough not to disagree. At the moment United play a moribund brand of football under Louis van Gaal, have a squad that is imbalanced and look increasingly likely to be playing in the Europa League next season. Although they may be able to stump up big money for players, it’s important they can sate on-field ambitions as well as financial ones.
Neymar, at the moment, is simply out of the club’s league and will be even more so when a new contract is agreed—a deal that you suspect will include a bolstered release clause.
From a Barcelona perspective, it’s no surprise to see them protect their asset by handing him a substantial new deal; according to Goal, it’ll make him the club's second highest-paid player behind Lionel Messi. As we can see here, courtesy of Squawka Football, he’s been in tremendous form this campaign:
Neymar has now scored 23 goals in 32 matches across all competitions for Barcelona this season. pic.twitter.com/nS5CQeM8ZZ— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 20, 2016
At this point in Neymar’s career, it’d be a peculiar move to go anywhere else. The forward is playing alongside some of the top talents in the game every week, and as a result, he seems to be getting better and better as a player. Should he depart for greener pastures, the kind of fantasy football Barcelona are playing at the moment will not be replicable.
United may have to lower their expectations moving forward in the transfer window, especially if the club does find itself out of the Champions League. However, Neymar was always an extremely fanciful target and in light of these recent reports, a player who would be a waste of time to pursue any longer.