Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid president, has vowed to secure a stellar new attacker after his efforts to sign Neymar ended in embarrassing failure with the Brazil international promising his own future to Barcelona.
Neymar leaves Real Madrid wanting
Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid president, has vowed to secure a new attacker after his efforts to sign Neymar ended in embarrassing failure, with the Brazil international promising his future to Barcelona.
Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero are among the players targeted by Perez to assuage the damage of losing out on South America's most celebrated youngster.
Perez had spent months pursuing Neymar, at one point believing he had tied the teenager to a pre-contract agreement with an "unbreakable" penalty clause if he declined to leave Santos for the Bernabeu.
Ronaldo, the former Real and Brazil striker, was hired to help court his compatriot, who is understood to have been offered a contract comparable to Cristiano Ronaldo's salary of €10.5 million net (Dh51.9m) as the highest earner at the club.
Despite also offering to exceed the €45m buyout clause as a means of securing the cooperation of Santos in the deal, Real failed to conclude terms on Neymar's transfer from the Brazilian champions during the summer window.
Instead, Perez became increasingly concerned that the player's commitment was wavering in the face of counter-proposals from Barcelona and the offer of a contract extension at Santos. That was ultimately accepted by Neymar, who is now contracted to the Brazilian club until 2014 on a €7.2m per annum deal partly funded by corporate sponsors.
The player's buyout had also been increased to €90m.
According to sources close to the negotiations, the 19-year-old Neymar called a halt to discussion of a transfer to Real following a stormy transatlantic telephone call in which Perez asked the player to honour his earlier commitments and complete the deal.
Angered that Neymar had met with Sandro Rosell, the Barcelona president, and made repeated public statements of his admiration for Lionel Messi and the club, Perez is understood to have told Neymar that he owed respect to an institution like Real.
The president also informed Neymar that he would have to accept being selected as a substitute as he lacked experience of elite European football.
Unimpressed by Perez's attitude, Neymar then called his father, instructing him to accept the Santos offer of an improved contract.
He also contacted a friend of Rosell's to let him know his intention was to join Barcelona in two years. With his two spells as Real's president punctuated by the recruitment of a number of the planet's most famed footballers, Perez has responded to the setback in typical style.
First he informed Madrid's sports press that his club was no longer interested in Neymar.
Then, he drew up a new plan to deliver a star name.
The sums involved in acquiring Rooney or Aguero, who are tied to lucrative contracts at Manchester United and City, respectively, would be significant, though Perez has never shied from such prominent investments in the past.
Alternative options include Mario Goetze, the Borussia Dortmund playmaker pursued by Arsenal last summer, and Lille's Eden Hazard.