Neymar has apparently ended speculation about his future by reportedly signing a new contract with Barcelona, one that will extend his stay with the Catalan club for another five years.
ESPN Brasil (h/t ESPN FC) reported the news on Thursday, stating how the new terms have improved Neymar's earnings, making the South American striker the "second-highest paid player on the team behind Lionel Messi."
Apparently, this deal has been in the works for a while, per the ESPN report: "According to the outlet, the new contract was signed in December when Barcelona were in Japan for the Club World Cup, but any announcement was held up due to issues surrounding the Brazilian's recent tax cases with Spanish and Brazilian authorities."
The idea that Neymar has known for a while that his future lies at the Camp Nou goes against the transfer speculation that had been building around the 24-year-old. In particular, the prolific forward had been linked with Premier League side Manchester United, per the Daily Mail's Adrian Durham.
As it is, though, Barca now get to maintain their dynamic front three of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. The trio form the most ruthless and skilled forward line in the game, making Barcelona the dominant club in Europe.
Before Barcelona's 2-0 win over Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, Alistair Tweedale of the Daily Telegraph provided an astonishing statistic about this front three: "In the league alone this season they have scored a total of 58 goals in 25 games so far, in the process outscoring 95 of the 97 other teams in Europe's top five leagues, only beaten by Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain."
Is Neymar a future Ballon d'Or winner?
Neymar has played his part by striking 18 goals in Spain's top flight, per WhoScored.com. Keeping him at the club will ensure his development into one of the world's top talents—a player capable of winning the Ballon d'Or in the near future—will continue safely alongside the brilliance of Messi and Suarez.
It also means Barca's status as the team to beat in football's modern era is protected.