Manchester United have been linked with Brazil's first choice strike pairing over the past week. Is there any truth in reports?
It is not just Usain Bolt who has been linked with signing with Manchester United in the week after the transfer window closed. The Red Devils have been connected in the UK and world's media with the signings of Neymar and Leandro Damiao.
Importantly, is their any truth in the reports? Both strikers are incredible players, you don't become first choice for the Brazil national team if you are an average striker.
Neymar is the fresh-faced 20-year-old forward who plays for Santos, and has been regularly linked with moves to Barcelona and Chelsea for a number of years.
He featured in Brazil's Olympic squad, and has scored 13 goals in 20 games for his club this season, as well as providing nine assists.
There is a lot of money in Brazilian football nowadays, an effect of the flourishing Brazilian economy, and despite the recent big money sales of Lucas Moura and Oscar to overseas clubs, sides are more resistant to big moves, and can name their price rather than having to flog them on the cheap.
With the World Cup taking place in Brazil in 2014, there is a lot of political pressure being applied by and on the Brazilian Football Federation to keep their poster boy in his homeland until then.
United were linked with him at the start of the week by The Sun, who claimed the Old Trafford side had made a £38 million offer on deadline day. The club rarely respond to speculation, but they took the unprecedented step of issuing a statement claiming no such approach had been made..
For some this only added more fuel to the fire. 'If they are denying it there must be something in it', it was claimed by a number of supporters on Twitter, but when Neymar's club Santos came out and confirmed there had been no bid it poured further cold water over The Sun's story.
Indeed the paper's very motives for running the story were called into question by The Mirror's Football Editor Dan Silver on Twitter who claimed the article had nothing in it, and was purely being run as a 'spoiler' in the newspaper war because The Mirror had beaten The Sun to the latest serialisation of Wayne Rooney's autobiography.
The last word in this matter should belong to Neymar's father, who claimed one day a move to Europe would come, but 'not now' because his boy is very happy playing his football in Brazil.
Moving on, it didn't take long for the rumour mill to link United with in-demand striker Leandro Damiao. The goalscorer netted six times for his country at the Olympic games, proving his international credentials and displaying his talents on the world stage.
Damiao is 23 and has been regularly linked with Tottenham, while there was also a deadline day connection with Liverpool, with it claimed his agent was attempting to offer him to the club. Damiao said he received a 'very good' offer from an overseas club but was happy to stay in Brazil with Internacional.
It has been reported this week that United are lining up an offer for the striker in January in excess of £20 million. Could they?
All this talk of strikers is a little strange. United bought Robin van Persie from Arsenal for £24 million, and also have Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck, and Wayne Rooney competing for places in attack.
The only way the club would consider bringing in a new multi-million signing in attack is if Rooney was sold. And that isn't going to happen, is it?
It is our assessment that there is very little in each story, Damiao or Neymar, and it is just newspapers trying to sell newspapers. With the transfer window closed, and the fact it is international week, there is little of substance going on around the club, and these stories have been created and taken a life of their own.
Sure they make for exciting and fascinating reading for United fans, but it says something when the possible signing of sprint king Usain Bolt actually seems more likely.
Paper talk or genuine interest? What is your verdict?
image: © jikatu