MANCHESTER UNITED and Manchester City are going into battle with all guns blazing for Barcelona ace Neymar, The Sun reports. Neymar is the No 1 target of new Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.
And United have been chasing the Brazil superstar since last summer when they were ready to pay his £144m get-out clause to bring him to Old Trafford. His father Neymar Sr said last week: “There is no reason why he should sign a new deal at Barcelona.”
It was a clear message to potential suitors that the Brazilian star is open to a move away from the Catalan giants. Today Sunsport reveals what the two Manchester rivals must do to capture the Barcelona superstar – who COULD quit the Catalan giants this summer.
IT is the transfer battle that could shape English football for the foreseeable future. A Manchester derby where victory is more important than any game United and City will play on the pitch — the capture of Barcelona star Neymar.
And the winner — if there is one — could end up dominating the Premier League for years. United, as SunSport first reported last August, want to make Neymar the face of the club, their No 1 poster-boy. City, under new boss Pep Guardiola, will promise the same — although it will be a delicate path if they want to avoid upsetting S ergio Aguero.
United, by contrast, will not worry if their move puts Wayne Rooney’s nose out of joint. Neymar will never be the top man at Barcelona as long as Lionel Messi stays on, although, ironically, City have been on Messi’s trail too. It would be a monumental coup to prise either man out of Barca but there is a feeling in Catalonia that it is getting harder to keep both of them, not least for financial reasons.
Even though on and off the pitch a close friendship has been forged between the dynamic duo, the Brazilian’s people believe it may be time for him to move on. The Neymar “brand” is the sole focus of his representatives. And it is a long-term strategy that they hope will establish him as the world’s No 1 footballer.
The 23-year-old does the business on the pitch. And his people want to ensure they give him the opportunity to be the headline-grabber rather than the Oscar-winner in a supporting role. At Barcelona Neymar will always be No 2 to Messi. They may be great friends but there does come a point in this ego-driven world when one major player moves on. That Neymar will be top dog in Manchester and the Premier League is beyond doubt.
What United offer is the “brand”. They have been chasing him for almost a year and vowed to make him their face. Every poster, every advertising campaign, every major sponsorship will be centred on Neymar’s photo. From Manchester to Kuala Lumpur and from Sydney to New York, Neymar will be the face of United. The pull off the pitch is enormous, even if the side right now is not convincing on the pitch.
One major glitch? That United may not be in the Champions League next year. That would be the end of that. City, on the other hand, have major stars in their squad like Argentinian striker Aguero — who may not be impressed if the Brazilian takes all the limelight. But they do have the pull of Guardiola. The Pep Factor could prove decisive. The chance to work with the most celebrated boss of the last decade may be too hard to resist.
When Guardiola was unveiled as Bayern’s boss in January 2013, behind the scenes he had asked club bosses to buy ONE player — Neymar! At the time the deal to take him to Barcelona from Santos was already in place but if Neymar paid a £36million compensation fee he could go to Bayern, provided of course they could convince Neymar to join by offering astronomical wages.
However, Bayern bosses told Guardiola: “Impossible, we are signing Mario Gotze and are in talks with his people.” Sure enough they signed Gotze from Borussia Dortmund in a highly controversial transfer three months later. That they announced the £32m capture of the German midfielder just before Dortmund faced Real Madrid in a Champions League semi-final was a PR disaster for Bayern. But it was also the first crack in the relationship of Guardiola with the club’s top brass even before the Catalan had taken charge of Bayern officially.
Guardiola did not fancy Gotze. A combination of injuries and poor form has meant that he has failed to shine in Pep’s time at Bayern. He did, though, famously score the winner for Germany in the World Cup final against Messi’s Argentina. Gotze’s fee was a fraction of what Neymar would have cost Bayern on the open market. Now Guardiola is going to City he is once again targeting the Brazilian to be the focal point of the new team he will build at the Etihad.
And City have the financial muscle to pull off the mega-bucks deal. Money does not necessarily come into it. Both City and United will offer Neymar as much as £1m a week. A salary he may well get at Barcelona if Messi is sold. But that remains a big IF. And so it may come down to the “package”.
The quality of the squad, who the manager is — and United have not got a prayer if Louis van Gaal stays in charge — and if they are not in the Champions League. But should both City and United make the top four, the clincher will be the absolute guarantee that Neymar will be the face of the club.
Otherwise, why leave Barca and pal Messi behind?