Neymar from Santos to FC Barcelona: Closed Deal, Almost Done, Or In Progress?

Jamie McDonald

The Brazilian star is definitely on his way over to join Barcelona. Maybe. Actually he's already signed on. Actually, no, he hasn't. Or maybe he has. Why do the media reports in Spain and Brazil disagree with each other so much?

Neymar plays for Santos, but if you believe all the reports written about him in newspapers around the world, he's already joined Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City, Anzhi, Paris Saint Germain, PES United and the Los Angeles Lakers. (OK, maybe not the last two.)

It's easy to see why everyone is so anxious to move him onto a greater stage. It's hard to remember a player with so much media hype around him, who at the same time, had yet to prove himself in a top European league. With Brazil about to host a World Cup, the expectations are immense for the 21-year-old. Brazil's legend, Pelé, even went as far as to say more than a year ago that Neymar was better than Lionel Messi.

A few days ago, an ex-Santos vice-president, Vicente Cascione, said that Neymar had already signed for Bayern Munich. "I'm not speculating," the former VP said, "This information is undeniable."

So why did the current VP of Santos, Odlio Rodrigues, say that Bayern have "no interest" in purchasing the Brazilian star? It's confusion all around.

For months, the Catalan media has said that the Barcelona's deal for Neymar is already done. They have also said there is a large penalty to pay if Neymar does not join Barca, and further, that Real Madrid are prepared to pay a large sum (over 40 million euro) to secure his services.

Despite this, Rodrigues says that Neymar has made up his mind and will only join Barca. However, Barcelona President Sandro Rosell and Director of Sport Andoni Zubizarreta have been coy, insisting only that "many teams" are interested in the Santos forward.

And yet, a little over a week ago, Neymar was quoted as saying that he did not plan to leave Santos before 2014, and that there was no pre-deal with Barcelona or any other club. Hypothetically, Neymar always said the plan was to stay until after the World Cup in Brazil, when his contract with the Peixe club was up, in 2014.

However, would Santos really allow his deal to expire, allowing such a valuable asset to go for free? And shouldn't Neymar get some experience in the big leagues in Europe in preparation for the World Cup? Brazil's last coach, Mano Menezes, certainly thinks so. He said that Neymar has not made any progress in the past few months, and only the increased level of competition in Europe can really prepare Brazil's brightest star.

The latest is that Santos, along with the third parties who own Neymar's registration (a messy subject in itself, which we will not get into due to lack of space), has agreed with Barcelona on a transfer fee. However, Neymar Senior, the father of the player, has withheld from giving his approval,

The father thinks that Neymar will fetch a higher price once the Confederations Cup takes place in Brazil. It would be a good showcase opportunity and would certainly raise his price if Neymar performed well.

It sounds, then, like there is only one person left to sign the deal. Yet today, Barcelona sources were quoted in Diario AS saying that the deal "was not imminent." It's going to take a while, they warned. Not only that, but an approach from Real Madrid is expected to offer competition.

Still, it sounds like Barcelona is the favorite to sign Neymar, and a deal is about to be approved.

Or it's happening already. Or done months ago. Or will never happen. Who knows anymore?

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