Manchester United and Chelsea both looked into signing Barcelona star Neymar but were put off by the £195million asking price Paris Saint-Germain appear willing to pay for the Brazilian forward.
Reports in Brazil have suggested the 25-year-old has accepted an offer from PSG with the French club said to have met his release clause, which was upped to £195million on July 1, although those claims have been denied in Paris.
United and Chelsea have both been in the market for a leading forward this summer, with the Red Devils having completed the £75million signing from under the noses of the Premier League champions, who in turn continue their search for a front man.
Sportsmail understands both clubs did ask about Neymar’s availability, but when it became clear just how much PSG were willing to pay for the Brazilian, both ended their interest to leave the Parisians standing alone in the chase for one of the leading lights of world football.
PSG responded to the claims made by Brazilian sports channel Esporte Interativo on Tuesday by informing L’Equipe that they are not about to star in another episode of the ‘Neymar show’ and indicated that the asking price remains out of the question.
The latest chapter in the Neymar soap opera began on Monday when Barcelona paper Sport published a story citing sources close to the Brazilian suggesting that he is ‘unhappy’ at the club because he remains in the shadow of Leo Messi and Messi’s best pal Luis Suarez.
Barcelona’s Technical Secretary Robert Fernandez was asked, during Barca coach Ernesto Valverde’s first press conference of the pre-season, if he could envisage a Barca without Neymar if a club paid his buy-out andhe responded: ‘That will not happen’.
It was a somewhat cold response that seemed to say ‘no-one will pay for him’ as opposed to ‘we will never sell him’.
Sportsmail understands that some important figures within the club have grown tired of the steady stream of stories suggesting he wants out of the Camp Nou and would sanction any deal providing his buy-out – which rose to £195million on July 1 – was met.
PSG’s briefing suggests it is that buy-out that stands between them and signing the player. Far from stating they are not interested in buying him they emphasise the financial difficulty of the deal.
A potential solution to the money problem is Marco Veratti. The Italian midfielder is wanted by Barcelona but valued at around £88million by PSG.
If the midfielder became part of the deal then PSG would only have £108million to find in order to fulfill the long-held dream of president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi to have one of the world’s top three players at the club.
Many Barcelona supporters would not be against such a deal, especially if the surplus £108million was then dedicated to ensuring Monaco’s teenage winger Kylian Mbappé ended up with them instead of with Real Madrid.