Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has reacted to rumours linking Neymar with a move to Manchester United by saying he wants the forward to spend the rest of his career at the Camp Nou and revealed that talks over a new contract will open “over the next months.”
Neymar, 23, has been linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent days via reports in the British and Brazilian press, with Globoesporte talking up a potential world-record bid of £140 million being made by United while The Sun reports the total package of transfer fee and wages could amount to £240m.
Barca sources have told Catalan paper Mundo Deportivo that no bid from United has been received, nor has the player’s camp been in touch with Barca’s board to communicate any interest.
Blaugrana club chief Bartomeu, who along with predecessor Sandro Rosell is still under investigation for his role in the controversial deal which brought Neymar to the club from Santos two years back, told Radio Catalunya that his aim was for the forward to spend the rest of his playing days at the Camp Nou.
“We do not want [Neymar] to leave,” Bartomeu said. “He is young, we want him to retire here, at our club. He must stay here.”
While United’s wish to sign a star attacking player is evident, another possible reason for the most recent speculation is that negotiations between Barca and Neymar’s camp to extend his current contract — which ends in 2018 — are planned.
Bartomeu said that talks about a new deal would begin soon — with the aim of tying the player into another long-term contract.
“Over the next months we will talk about a new contract for Neymar,” he said. “He must stay here, not just three years, but five or 10 years.”
Neymar missed Barca’s 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao in their 2015-16 La Liga opener on Sunday as he is still recovering from mumps, but is expected to be back for next Saturday’s home clash with Malaga at the Camp Nou.
Even after Pedro Rodriguez’s move to Chelsea last week — having previously attracted interest from United — Bartomeu said that no new signings were expected before the end of the current window, although he did not rule out moves in January when the club’s FIFA-imposed transfer ban will have ended.
“If there are no serious injuries, we will not make any more signings this summer,” he said.
Pedro was back in Barcelona on Monday for an emotional farewell news conference, and Bartomeu said the Canary Islander was likely to return to the club in some role further down the line.
“Pedro will one day return to Barca,” he said.