Enrique silent on Neymar 'rumours'

BARCELONA • Luis Enrique refused to comment on speculation surrounding Neymar's future after Barcelona began their La Liga title defence with a 1-0 victory at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

The Barcelona manager said at his post-match press conference: "Talking about Neymar and other clubs doesn't interest me. I don't talk about rumours.I focus on what happens in my team."

He clearly did not want to be drawn into commenting on reports that emerged over the weekend that Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal wants to sanction a mega move for the Brazil forward.

Neymar has three years left on his contract. He is an integral member of the Barcelona team that won the Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey treble last season.

Yet, English club United are clear they could prise him from the Spanish outfit.

Van Gaal had said earlier that the club will only makes moves for a striker this window if they are world-class and Neymar certainly fits the bill.

"When he is the best striker in the world then, yes, we need him, but that's what I have been saying for two months," the United manager said. "He has to contribute but when he cannot contribute in our eyes, then we won't buy any striker. But when he does, we shall buy."

According to sources close to Neymar, the 23-year-old forward would consider joining United. He is attracted by the size and history of the English club and the chance to play in the Premier League.

Last Monday Ed Woodward, United's executive vice-chairman, was in Barcelona.

While it was reported this was to try to close a deal for Pedro Rodriguez, who eventually signed for Chelsea, it is understood he was there to continue the audacious bid to land Neymar.

While the forward's current terms expire in 2018, his consideration of a transfer to United may be a ploy to extract the most lucrative new deal from the Catalan club. This is a factor the United hierarchy will be aware of. THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2015, with the headline 'Enrique silent on Neymar 'rumours''. Print Edition | Subscribe