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Manchester City, the club with the biggest spending power in the Barclays Premier League, have made the first move in the race to sign Brazil star Neymar.
City’s top executives Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain are said to have held initial talks with Neymar’s family and his representatives in a box at Wembley on the night of England’s 2-1 friendly win over Brazil earlier this month.
Chief executive Soriano and director of football Begiristain were guests of the FA in the VIP Wembley suite for the 150th anniversary match.
But the pair went to the trouble of visiting the IMG hospitality box — located on the other side of the stadium — in order to make contact with the Neymar camp and were spotted during their tour round the corporate areas.
Sports management giants IMG are understood to have been entertaining Neymar’s father Neymar da Silva and the £55m-rated player’s marketing team from IMX Talent. The company is a joint venture with IMG to exploit sports business opportunities in Brazil.
They took control of Neymar’s off-field image rights and career guidance last July. He is under contract at Brazilian side Santos until the 2014 World Cup which takes place in Brazil.
The 21-year-old striker is expected to make his inevitable big-money move to Europe that summer, after a tournament which could dramatically increase his value.
There was much hype surrounding Neymar’s appearance in this country earlier this month, but despite playing 90 minutes at Wembley the youngster failed to impress as England deservedly won the game.
That has not deterred top clubs like Barcelona from wanting to sign him and the Spanish giants are seen as one of the favourites for his signature.
But Abu Dhabi-owned City can afford to offer Neymar a similar package or better and have put down the first marker.
It also might be relevant that Spanish compatriots Soriano and Begiristainused to work together at Barcelona — reported to be the preferred choice of Neymar Snr for his son — and could persuade the family to make the move to Manchester instead. – Daily Mail