Leo Messi says he does not know if Neymar will join Barcelona this summer, but he hopes the transfer does happen.
The Santos attacker, 21, has long been linked with a move to the Catalan club, and talks with the players’ various owners are thought to be well advanced. On a promotional trip to Qatar this week, the Argentine told local TV channel Alkass that Neymar would bring something different to the Barca front line.
"Only the player knows if he will sign for the club or not, nobody else knows," Messi said. "For us he would be a marvellous addition. He is the type of player who offers individual solutions different from the rest. He is a great player, who is very good in one-on-ones with opponents."
Reports on both sides of the Atlantic suggest the move is close, but details remain to be ironed out. Brazilian paper O Globo have claimed Neymar has already signed personal terms with Barca, on a contract which begins after this summer’s Confederation Cup, which would mean his last game for Santos will be this weekend against Flamengo.
AS and Mundo Deportivo both say the deal is complicated as Neymar’s ‘rights’ are divided between Santos (55%) and investors DIS (40%) and Teisa (5%). Marca add the investors Sonda and the player’s own father to that list of ‘stakeholders’, and say Barca executive Raul Sanllehi and Santos representative Odilio Rodrigues met this week for further talks on a move.
"The conversations with Barca are continuing," Rodrigues said in Marca. "Neymar wants to leave and we are trying to achieve an agreement. If there is a good offer for Santos, and for the player, we will analyse it. We will receive offers from other European clubs."
This is seen as an attempt by Santos to try and start an auction, with Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City other possible bidders. Barca reportedly remain confident that their total offer of about €35 million [much less than his €65 million release clause] will eventually be accepted by all parties as, with Neymar's heart set on joining Messi at the Camp Nou, he would move for free in 12 months' time when his current deal with the Brazilian club ends.