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Saints bite back after Rodgers dig

The Toe Poke
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Chelsea priced out for Neymar

Chelsea have told Brazilian club Santos that Neymar is far too costly at £41 million and that, as it stands, they have no intention of meeting the player's buy-out clause of that amount.

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Unless Santos drop their price, Chelsea will not continue a near-two-year long pursuit of the Brazilian who has scored three times in his first five internationals for his country.

Super agent Pini Zahavi, a close consort of Roman Abramovich, is authorised to act for Neymar in any European transfer and is widely reported in Brazil to be heading to Rio this weekend to conclude a deal with Chelsea. However, ESPNsoccernet has learned that a move for Neymar has stalled over the price.

Zahavi is sure to be in Brazil at the weekend, but it is no more than a routine visit and a deal for Neymar is some way off.

The source confided on Thursday that Santos will only accept the full amount of €45 million, and Chelsea would never pay so much for a 19-year-old unproven in English football. "But this player is so good that there are other clubs who will pay it, I am sure," the transfer expert said.

Real Madrid want Neymar, but they too are baulking at the asking price. Chelsea haven't given up hope that Santos will finally negotiate a reasonable fee.

Manchester City would pay the full amount, but ESPNsoccernet has been told that Neymar will not go there. Neymar favours Real Madrid or Chelsea, and talks are ongoing

Another complication is the strong suggestion that if Santos win the Copa Libertadores then Neymar wants to stay on to play at the FIFA Club World, and they began their double-headed final with a good result, a 0-0 draw away to Penarol.

Although the Neymar deal now looks doubtful, Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay has promised fans that there will be "two or three new players in the team" before the new season.

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