By Spain correspondent Miguel de Souza

Barcelona have opened talks with Neymar about a new contract, Football Insider sources understand.

The Brazilian superstar’s representatives have held initial discussions with Barca officials over extending his current £230,000-a-week deal, which runs until 2018.

Football Insider revealed in August that Neymar is targeting a contract worth a staggering £500,000-a-week.

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Neymar, who was linked with Manchester United at the end of the transfer window, wants a huge pay rise that will take him close to team-mate Lionel Messi, who is the world’s best-paid footballer with a contract worth £530,000-a-week before taxes.

Neymar’s current salary is less than half that of Messi. The Brazilian’s contract is set at £6.4million after tax per year, which, given the income tax rate for Spain top earners of 47 per cent, is the equivalent of £230,000-a-week.

The 23-year-old wants an improved deal that will more than double his pay to £500,000-week and will run until 2021. Over six years, the total package he is seeking would be worth an astonishing £156million.

An improved Neymar contract is a priority of Barcelona, who had always planned to offer the forward a new deal in his third year at the club and recognise they will have to offer a massive deal to keep one of their most important players.

Hot pursuit: Louis van Gaal sanctioned a shock summer United move for Neymar

Hot pursuit: Louis van Gaal sanctioned a shock summer United move for Neymar

The Brazil international has been a huge success since his move from Santos in 2013, scoring 39 goals last season in a Barca front three that, with Messi and Luis Suarez, scored 122 goals. The club won the Treble and Neymar also scored in the Champions League final.

There will be an even greater onus on him in the next two months while Messi recovers from a knee injury sustained a fortnight ago.

United have not distanced themselves from reports they have targeted a world-record move for Neymar, although the complications of such a transfer would mean any deal is unlikely.

The Brazilian’s camp are likely to use the interest of the Premier League giants as a negotiating tool in discussions with Barcelona.