Neymar considered an offer to join Chelsea at the age of just 18 back in the summer of 2010, with the proposal presented to the player and his father by former agent Wagner Ribeiro.
Neymar was still with Santos at the time and opted to remain at home in Brazil for another three years until joining Barcelona. But as well as Chelsea, there were further offers from Bayern Munich and Juventus, while even West Ham were rumoured to have a bid for the teenager.
Chelsea’s offer of around £25m, eclipsing West Ham’s apparent £20m bid, was reported at the time. Ribeiro told the press back then it would be ‘useless’ for Santos to offer Neymar a pay rise to get him to stay, although the player himself publicly insisted he wanted to stay at the Brazilian club.
That was indeed the reality in the end, although Ribeiro has once more spoken about Chelsea’s firm interest after appearing on Canal do Nicola over the weekend.
“There were many calls for him,” Ribeiro, who had already at that time helped broker big moves to Europe for Brazilian stars Kaka and Robinho, commented.
“I received an official offer from Chelsea the day Neymar debuted with the Brazilian team in 2010,” he explained, which places the bid on 26 July 2010, around three weeks before it was reported.
It wasn’t dismissed out of hand and Ribeiro and his team handed it over to Neymar and his father to mull over, explaining, “[Chelsea] made an offer, we studied it, but in the end we didn’t decide anything. On that occasion we transferred it to Neymar’s father and the player himself.
“Then came other offers from Bayern Munich and Juventus with whom I had a meeting in Turin.”
Back in 2017, Ribeiro admitted that his personal preference was for Neymar to join Real Madrid, explaining that it was the player himself who eventually chose Barcelona when he left Brazil in 2013, even though it was a less lucrative deal.
“I took proposals from Chelsea and Real Madrid to Santos,” the agent said then.
“I wanted him to go to Real Madrid and I have always said that. It was a good proposal economically and the best for Santos. It was the best for the player too. But he decided to go to Barcelona because it was the team of his heart.”
Real were keen on Neymar from an early age and was at one point even invited to Madrid for a visit when he was just 13. In a joint 2013 book titled Conversations with my Father, Neymar Sr. revealed he and his son spent 19 days in the Spanish capital and were offered a similar deal to the one that had previously taken Lionel Messi to Barcelona at a similar age.
Neymar scored 27 goals in training across those 19 days, but he and his father had decided in less than a week that the transition at such a young age would have been too much to handle.
Despite his obvious association with Barcelona, where he won the Champions League in 2015, Neymar has been linked with Real in some way or another ever since. Now, Ribeiro has claimed that he has spoken to Los Blancos president Florentino Perez about it as recently as last year.
“I went to Madrid several times because Florentino had the dream of taking Neymar,” he said during the aforementioned Canal do Nicola chat. “Last year I was with him, in May, in his office, and he even told me that he maintains the dream of signing Neymar.”
At that point, Ribeiro no longer directly represented the player, though.
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