Manchester City and Real Madrid are making a last-minute attempt to gazump Barcelona’s £50million signing of Brazil star Neymar.
Barcelona have a pre-contract with the player, who has agreed to join the Catalan club either this summer or after the 2014 World Cup, and Neymar will have to pay a huge amount of compensation if he breaks the agreement.
But City director of football Txiki Begiristain and representatives of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez are understood to have made it clear they will cover the costs of any compensation and improve Neymar’s personal terms if he would consider a move to them.
On the move: Neymar looked set to join Barcelona but could be swayed
Barcelona have become increasingly concerned about the possibility of Neymar breaking his agreement, aware that other clubs can legitimately buy out the deal.
Neymar, 21, would be a natural replacement for Carlos Tevez, who has one more year left on his City contract worth more than £200,000 a week.
The Brazilian, who disappointed when he played against England at Wembley last month but is expected to be the star when Brazil host the World Cup next year, has been a phenomenon at Santos, Pele’s former club.
Begiristain, who was at Barcelona as sporting director when the club began scouting Neymar, flew to Brazil this year and he is understood to have made inquiries as to the availability of the player while there.