Red Devils tried in vain to sign Neymar, Pato

LONDON • Barcelona forward Neymar has admitted he held talks with Manchester United this summer while Brazilian compatriot Alexandre Pato revealed the Red Devils made a late attempt to sign him before the transfer window closed.

United eventually signed Anthony Martial from Monaco on deadline day. The French teenager has hit the ground running with four goals in his first four matches in all competitions.

But United's attack could have had a distinctive Brazilian flavour.

Neymar told ESPN Brasil: "We had conversations but there was nothing concrete. I heard there were offers but none made to me."

British media reports suggested that United were willing to spend some £240 million (S$522 million) on transfer fees and wages to take Neymar to Old Trafford.

Though that did not materialise, the fact that the Brazil captain spoke to another club seems to have prompted Barca to begin new contract talks with him.

The 23-year-old's current deal runs until 2018 but the Spanish club are eager to keep him until 2021. It is understood that Barcelona's third top earner - at £6.4 million a year - can expect to get closer in line to Lionel Messi's wages of £14.6 million per year.

United were closer to signing Pato, the 25-year-old former AC Milan striker who is on loan at Sao Paulo from Corinthians.

"Two hours before (the Sept 1 deadline), I had a very good offer from Manchester United," Pato told SporTV on Thursday.

However, he did not give any other details of the proposed deal.

Pato scored 51 goals in 117 games for the Milan club and 10 in 27 caps for Brazil.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2015, with the headline 'Red Devils tried in vain to sign Neymar, Pato'. Print Edition | Subscribe