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Sources: Barca near agreement to sign De Ligt

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Barcelona to start Neymar talks over new and improved contract

Barcelona technical director Robert Fernandez has said talks to extend Neymar's contract will begin soon and he is confident they can be resolved quickly.

Neymar, 23, is under contract to the European champions until June 2018, and the club want to tie him to an improved deal that would reportedly make him their second-highest earner after Lionel Messi.

The Brazil captain scored 43 goals in all competitions last season as part of Barcelona's record-breaking attack, helping them win the Primera Division, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble.

In an interview with Barcelona-based newspaper Sport, Fernandez said: "It's a negotiation that we will begin very soon, and we will very likely reach an agreement."

Neymar was recently linked with Manchester United, with reports in England claiming the Red Devils were prepared to spend £240 million on him -- £130m on his buyout clause and the remainder on tying him to a long-term contract at Old Trafford.

He had been a target for United's rivals Manchester City and Chelsea two years earlier, but opted to joined Barca from Santos in the summer of 2013.

Rafinha, another Brazilian player on Barca's books, is also expected to be offered a new deal.

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder becomes a free agent next summer, and his father and agent Mazinho has begun talks.

"It's not signed yet, but Rafinha's renewal is a matter of days," Fernandez said. "We have to reach an agreement because he is a very important player for the club.

"He is a player that is growing a lot, and we believe he will continue to do so and will provide a lot to Barcelona."

Fernandez, who became the club's technical director in July, took over a position left vacant since the Blaugrana dismissed Andoni Zubizarreta as sporting director in January.

He faces the challenge of finding a replacement for Pedro, who left for Chelsea last month.

The club could make a move once their FIFA transfer ban expires in January, and Fernandez said: "We have four months ahead to evaluate that situation. That's a window that we can use, and we will evaluate if it's really necessary.

"There are always footballers on our books that we can incorporate. What we need to do is decide well.

"We have time, but we cannot rush into decisions because it would be bad for the club.

"Our next big signing will be an important decision, I assume that. I hope the player that does comes will perform as I believe at the time he would."

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