x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Neymar chooses Real over Chelsea

The teenage Brazil forward will cost Jose Mourinho's team up to Dh233.8m dependent on whether he moves to the Bernabeu at the start of the upcoming Spanish season.

Neymar is one of the most sought-after players in European club football.
Neymar is one of the most sought-after players in European club football.

Neymar, the most sought-after young talent in world football, has delivered a snub to Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea by rejecting their advances and agreeing to join Real Madrid, instead.

The 19-year-old Brazil forward will cost Jose Mourinho’s team up to €45 million (Dh234m), dependent on whether he moves to the Bernabeu at the start of the Spanish season or at the end of Santos’s Brazilian Championship campaign.

Chelsea’s failure to land Neymar despite a series of meetings with the player’s representatives is the latest setback to Abramovich’s attempts to restructure the club around the new manager Andre Villas-Boas.

With the Russian billionaire overseeing transfer policy, Chelsea have now failed in attempts to sign Phil Jones, the England Under 21 international who elected to join Manchester United from Blackburn Rovers, and Theo Walcott, after the Arsenal forward rebuffed their approach.

Two bids for Luka Modric of £22m (Dh130m), then £25m rising to £27m, have been dismissed by Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, as not “anywhere near what I value him at if he was for sale”.

A third offer of £30m, which Chelsea consider their limit for the Croatia playmaker, is expected to receive similarly short shrift regardless of whether Modric submits a formal transfer request.

Though Chelsea have outbid Barcelona for the Udinese forward Alexis Sanchez, the Chile international’s preference is to move to the Camp Nou.

Villas-Boas’s first days of training have also been hampered by an knee injury suffered by Michael Essien that is expected to keep the Ghana midfielder sidelined for at least six months.

While an approach has been made to loan Scott Parker from West Ham United as a replacement, Villas-Boas’s coaching staff have debated as to whether the England international is of sufficient quality.

Seeing their extended pursuit of Neymar fail at the hands of former manager Mourinho is an additional blow. Florentino Perez, the Real president, has secured “an unbreakable” pre-contract agreement with the striker, who would be liable to pay huge penalty clauses if he attempted to remain in Brazil. Real are currently negotiating the terms of his transfer from Santos, the club he recently led to Copa Libertadores success for the first time in 48 years.

Their options are to pay the full €45m value of the buyout clause once the Brazil national team complete their participation in the Copa America, or to agree a discounted fee in return for allowing Neymar to remain at Santos until the end of the year.

On top of the potential financial benefits of leaving Neymar with Santos until the end of the year, Mourinho has calculated that the player would require at least a month’s recovery following the Copa America and would not be available for selection until October at the earliest.

Real could have acquired Neymar for a fraction of his current value five years ago. When only 14 years of age, Neymar was brought to the Bernabeu by the agent Wagner Ribeiro and a deal discussed in which his family would move to Spain and the player developed by Real’s cantera, but an agreement failed to materialise.