London: Manchester City is desperately trying to usurp Barcelona’s pursuit of Brazilian hotshot Neymar with a name-your-price offer to the striker after selling Mario Balotelli to Italian giants AC Milan. Neymar played for his country in their 2-1 defeat to England at Wembley on Wednesday night, but City had already made their move for him a day before that.
Technical director Txiki Beguiristain met the striker’s European representative Pini Zahavi for dinner on Tuesday at a swanky restaurant in Mayfair. The striker’s Brazilian club Santos has always insisted the 21-year-old is going nowhere until after next year’s World Cup, but City want Neymar to join them this summer, and Beguiristain made it clear they would be willing to pay more than 50 million pounds for him. City’s move for Neymar has infuriated Barcelona, who is convinced they have a written agreement with Santos for Neymar to join them in the summer of 2014.
Sources in Spain insist Barcelona have even paid an 8.6 million pound fee up front to the Brazilian club as part of a total deal worth around 34 million pounds. But City have been told the agreement does not give the Spanish giants exclusive rights to the player, and Roberto Mancini’s men are willing to blow them out of the water if it comes to a bidding war. The nine-point gap in the title race to Manchester United and the loss of Italian hit man Balotelli without a replacement last month seems to have focused minds at the Etihad.