By Spain correspondent Miguel De Souza
Neymar has confirmed he is aware of Manchester City’s interest in signing him in a £100million-plus deal.
The 23-year-old is currently negotiating a new contract at Barcelona but his father Neymar Santos Snr recently cast doubt over his future at the club over tax issues.
As revealed by Football Insider in early September, the defending Spanish and European champions are in talks with Neymar over extending his current £230,000-a-week deal, which runs until 2018.
Neymar’s father also confirmed in October that Manchester United made a world-record offer for the Brazil international forward in the summer, which Barcelona flatly rejected.
The Brazil forward returned from a short Christmas break with his family to Barcelona’s El Prat airport on Sunday and, when asked by Spanish media including Diario AS whether he was aware of City’s interest, he said: “Yes, yes.”
Neymar was also asked about possibly leaving Barcelona in the future, and he gave hope to his suitors, who include Chelsea and United by saying: “I don’t know, life is long.”
Football Insider revealed in August that Neymar is targeting a contract worth a staggering £500,000-a-week.
Neymar, who is rated in the £100million-plus bracket, 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.
However, Neymar Santos Sr said last month that a deal was not imminent due to other significant issues.
He said: “We’ve begun contract renewal talks, but there are outstanding issues that concern us, and which need to be resolved.
“We are not thinking of leaving Spain but we have a problem. We’ve never experienced such major tax issues.
“I don’t want to use the word persecution, but if the working environment here is not good, we won’t be able to remain in Spain and will have to leave the country.”