Wednesday 26 April 2017

Man United linked with outrageous summer move after 'tapping up' Barcelona star

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 19: Neymar Jr of Barcelona gestures during the La Liga football match between FC Barcelona and CD Leganes at Camp Nou stadium on February 19, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 19: Neymar Jr of Barcelona gestures during the La Liga football match between FC Barcelona and CD Leganes at Camp Nou stadium on February 19, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Manchester United were linked with a lavish move to sign Neymar last summer and now Spanish publication SPORT has claimed the Barcelona star has been ‘tapped up’ by Jose Mourinho in a bid to set-up a move to Old Trafford later this year.

United officials are believed to have held tentative talks with Barcelona over the signing of Neymar last August, with the Brazilian eventually ending speculation over his future by signing a lucrative new contract with the Catalan club in October.

That deal ties Neymar to Barcelona until 2021, with the €200m release clause in the contract clearly designed to kill off speculation over his future.

Yet SPORT seem convinced United are still trying to sign Neymar, even though their claim that Mourinho has made personal contact with the forward in a bid to persuade him to come to Old Trafford makes their story seem a little less than convincing.

After it was confirmed earlier this week that Neymar will stand trial in Spain on corruption charges, this report appears to tap into the notion that the 25-year-old is unhappy in his adopted homeland after the court decision, with the details in the story suggesting Mourinho has been making secret approaches to the player.

“SPORT has learned that Mourinho is regularly calling on Neymar to invite him to leave Barcelona and sign for Manchester United,” they report.

“This is a usual way of working for Mourinho. Speak to the player, explain how well the transfer would go to his career, which would mean working under him, how he would grow under him ... and it is the campaign being carried out by the coach with Neymar.”

While this makes for a nice narrative, the notion that Mourinho has been ‘tapping up’ Neymar in a bid to lure him to United is hard to believe.

Admittedly, Mourinho was involved in this kind of behaviour when he met defender Ashley Cole without the permission of Arsenal prior to his move to Chelsea back in 2006, in a duplicitous act that led to a heavy Football Association fine.

However, it is hard to imagine that Mourinho has been ‘regularly calling’ Neymar in recent months, with the new contract signed by the Brazilian seemingly ending United’s interest in his signature for now.

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