Former Santos president Marcelo Teixeira has detailed the role he played in blocking Neymar from joining Real Madrid as a youngster, paying the player's father $1 million to remain in Brazil.
"Neymar was blown away by the 'Galacticos', but in time we were able to get hold of his father and make him an offer that earned him a million dollars. He quickly accepted. My whole board of directors told me I was out of my mind, but we all knew Neymar was something special. Keeping him was essential to Santos, and to what the side went on to achieve with him at the centre of it. It was a difficult decision that I had to make on my own, but it was what had to be done at that moment in time."
Neymar, 27, has been linked with Los Blancos this summer, though ESPN FC reported former club Barcelona are poised to escalate their interest in re-signing the player:
The Brazilian was 13 when Robinho moved to Madrid from Santos in 2005, and his career could have turned out a lot differently had Neymar made the jump to Europe that summer. He established a superstar reputation in the Brasileiro Serie A, eventually joining Barca in 2013.
Teixeira added that Santos and Real weren't on great terms at the time: "Santos' relationship with Real Madrid was problematic at that time because of Robinho's departure. But in the end we kept hold of our rights [to Neymar] and relations were fine after that."
It's common knowledge the South American is no longer happy at PSG. Manager Thomas Tuchel has acknowledged the potential departure but recently told reporters the player won't leave unless a replacement is signed.
It's a far cry from the deep bonds he built at Barcelona and Santos, showing particular emotion when he left his boyhood club six years ago, via Goal:
Teixeira continued to praise his old club's former talisman: "Neymar is one of the best players in the world due to his individual talent. I believe he has the gift to compete with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. I'm sure that will happen. His agents will advise him well."
Neymar joined PSG in 2017 for a world-record €222 million, and any club hoping to sign him must offer a deal worth as close to that figure as possible to convince his French employers to sell.
The forward comes with baggage, however, which beIN Sports recently discussed following PSG's 2-1 defeat at Rennes in their second Ligue 1 fixture on Sunday:
Real have already added Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Rodrygo Goes to their attack this summer, and a lack of recent activity from their side suggests a deal for Neymar won't materialise anytime soon.