Ahead of Brazil’s first game in the Copa America, Born Offside looks at their new hero who has Europe’s elite willing to part with £40million…

Despite Santos president claiming Neymar will not leave and the player himself promising to see out his contract in Brazil, transfer speculation will not let up.

As soon as it emerged that €45million could purchase the 19-year-old five clubs had registered an interest. Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala are the main contenders while both Milan clubs and Manchester United have been linked in the past.

We don’t want to sell the player, but of course there is a release clause in his contract that can be paid and five European clubs have offered to match the clause,” explained Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira.

“I cannot name them because there is an agreement between Santos and the clubs, but they are the most important European clubs.

“They have asked to speak to the player and obviously we’ve allowed them to.”

But since then the Brazilian club have performed a u-turn claiming the forward will not be leaving the Copa Libertadores Champions.

Oliveira said: “The fans love Neymar, not only how he plays, but for his human qualities. That love is shared by millions of other Brazilians who admire him regardless of the club to which he belongs.

“In any case, the response of Santos is that we are not yet considering any offer for his transfer.

“Neymar will return to Santos (after the Copa America) and we will make efforts to retain and keep him happy for many years.”

Neymar has also announced that he has no intention of discussing a deal with any interested party, with it his plan to see out a contract which is set to run until 2015.

“I have a contract that I intend to honour,” he told Corujao do esporte.

But Europe’s elite continue to circle believing a deal to wrap up the transfer in a year’s time is possible.

Real Madrid are rated as favourites while Chelsea have the longest standing interest.

And Neymar may just be the best teenager in world football right now and has scored three goals in just five international appearances for Brazil.

He destroyed Scotland at the Emirates Stadium bagging a brace and making the UK sit up and take notice. The prodigy is now tipped to star in Brazil’s Copa America campaign.

He does have his critics however with Pele claiming the youngster “plays more for the camera’s than the team.” This may be true Neymar is flashy like his heroes Ronaldinho and David Beckham but there is no doubt he is a special talent.

Neymar will be Brazil’s headline act in 2014 and may go into the tournament as a top player at one of Europe’s top clubs whether his move comes this summer or next.

Look out for the 25 Best teenagers in World Football feature coming soon.

 

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