Barcelona's Neymar option
Barcelona have furthered their hold on Neymar's long-term future by making an initial instalment on the Brazil international's planned transfer from Santos.
The European champions have paid their South American counterparts – who they face in the final of the Club World Cup on Sunday – €10 million (Dh47.3m) in return for a unilateral option to sign the forward at any point until 2014.
Were Santos to renege on the agreement, Barcelona will be entitled to a compensation payment of €20m. Neymar has already agreed to personal terms with the Catalans, whose plan is to use the striker's eventual formal acquisition to reinvigorate their squad should their long run of domestic and international success come to a halt.
Sandro Rossel, the Barcelona president, has been the architect of an unusual arrangement that kept Neymar out of the clutches of Real Madrid and his main Premier League suitors, Chelsea, and involved the player signing an improved deal with Santos last month.
With the permission of the Santos president Luis Alvaro Ribeiro, a friend from their time working together in Brazilian football, Rossel helped persuade Neymar to break a pre-contract agreement to join Real this season.
Neymar, 19, has been fulsome in his praise of both Lionel Messi and Barcelona, whom he again described as "the best club in the world" last week. Ultimately, Barca are expected to pay €60m for his transfer.
Meanwhile, another Primera Liga side, Sevilla, are prepared to offer €3m to extract Giovani dos Santos from an unsuccessful stay at Tottenham Hotspur.
The Mexican has made just 13 Premier League appearances since joining from Barcelona for twice that sum in the summer of 2008, and is pressing Tottenham to allow him to leave.
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Updated: December 18, 2011 04:00 AM