Chelsea came close to signing Neymar in 2010

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Chelsea came close to signing Barcelona star Neymar back in 2010, when the Brazil international was still plying his trade for Santos.

This has been revealed by former Santos president Luis Álvaro de Oliveira (known as Laor), who also says that Chelsea submitted a €30 million offer for the South American superstar - €5 million less than the release clause in his contract at the time.

Chelsea offered Neymar’s family work and a school for his sister - and even arranged a meeting between the player, his father and the Blues’ billionaire owner Roman Abramovich - but the move failed to materialise after Santos acted swiftly to tie him down to a new contract.

Chelsea arranged Neymar meeting

In an interview with Spanish newspaper Sport, Laor revealed: "I knew that Chelsea's offer was going to include school for Neymar's sister, work for the family, card and a load of benefits.

"We knew that Chelsea were going to pick him up at the airport after a game in the south of Brazil, so we sent a car to take Neymar to the home of one of our directors. There he signed the new contract."

Neymar made the right decision to join Barcelona

Neymar subsequently stayed with Santos until the summer of 2013, when he completed a controversial big-money move to Barcelona worth anything between €57.1 million and €86.2 million.

Now 23, Neymar has blossomed - as expected - into one of the world’s best attacking players and continues to improve at the Camp Nou.

With 24 goals in 31 appearances this season, the skilful Brazilian is firmly on course to fulfil his immense potential with Barcelona.

Staying in South America for three more years proved an incredibly smart decision on the part of Neymar, who may have struggled to make an impact in the Premier League at such a young age.

Legend in the making

Neymar still experienced a mixed first season at the Camp Nou, scoring 15 goals in 41 matches, but has come on in leaps and bounds following the arrival of Luis Enrique.

His superb performances at the 2014 World Cup finals in his native Brazil have also played a part in his rapid development - he proved that he could handle immense responsibility.

He only turned 23 earlier this month, but has already scored a quite remarkable 42 goals in 60 matches for the Brazil national team.

At this rate he has every chance of scoring more international goals than the legendary Pele, who finished his career with 77 goals for the Seleção.

Chelsea will have regrets - Neymar won't

While Chelsea will regret their failure to sign Neymar, the Brazilian will be delighted with his decision to wait before completing a dream move to Barcelona, where he is more than happy playing alongside his idol Lionel Messi.

Neymar should stay at the Camp Nou for a very long time - and when he finally does leave, he’ll surely walk away - like Messi - with a host of team and individual honours to his name.

Would Chelsea now be a better team with Neymar? Would Chelsea fans like to see Neymar at Stamford Bridge in the future? Have your say in the comments below!

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