Manchester United came 'close' to signing Barcelona superstar Neymar before the Brazilian ultimately decided to stay with the Spanish club, the player's agent has revealed.
The Brazilian eventually agreed to extend his contract at Camp Nou, committing himself to the end of the 2020/21 season earlier this year. The new contract also saw his release clause lifted from €190m to €230m.
But before that deal was signed, two clubs expressed a desire to take him away from Catalunya and were willing to pay the full whack to do it. Such a transfer would have obliterated the world record and it appears it was closer than anyone originally thought.
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Neymar's representative Wagner Ribeiro has claimed his client was not only considering a move to Manchester United but came 'very close' to joining Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain. Keen to replace the departing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG made him an incredible offer worth £650,000-a-week.
With a huge wage bill already, Barcelona couldn't come close to matching that offer and were also outdone by United. However, despite the prospect of earning less, Neymar appeared to think his career was best served playing alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
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"He was close to joining PSG," Ribeiro told Bate-Bola Debat, per ESPN. "He would have earned €40 million a year net.
"Neymar was also close to a spell at Manchester United, but he extended his contract to earn less at Barcelona because he wanted to stay."
Already, an unnamed source from Parc des Princes has spoken to French publication L'Equipe and has vehemently denied the claim that they offered Neymar such a huge contract, saying it would have been completely unviable even for their exceedingly wealthy owners.
"It's totally false," they said. "With employer contributions on top, that salary would have cost more than €60m a year. It's obscene. Neymar used us to strengthen his hand with Barcelona."
For Manchester United, the alleged offer was submitted in the summer of 2015 while Jose Mourinho was still a Premier League champions at Stamford Bridge. The player's father has also claimed United had made the mammoth bid for his son.
Speaking in October 2015, he said: “The offer reached Barcelona and the club contacted us saying they were not going to sell,” he told Boa Tarde Fox. “They asked if we were interested but that wasn’t the case. Barcelona are not selling, he has three years still to go on his contract.
“It was Manchester’s deal, but that offer is not on the table now, it has fallen through.”
Much has changed in the last 12 months and, while the Special One would probably love a player like Neymar, it appears United's interest in signing him was fleeting.
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