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Chelsea were 'so close' to signing Neymar

Santos club president Luis Alvaro has revealed that he was ‘almost certain’ in-demand striker Neymar would transfer to Chelsea in the summer.

However, the Brazilian starlet – heralded as Brazil’s answer to Lionel Messi – has now pledged his allegiance to Santos and the president is confident he will see out the remainder of his contract at his boyhood club.

The 20-year-old has stated in recent weeks that he doesn’t feel the time is right for a ‘big move’ to Europe as Barcelona stepped up their chase for his signature.

The forward was linked all summer long with a move to Stamford Bridge and it now appears there was indeed fire behind the smoke as Alvaro revealed Di Matteo came agonizingly close to luring the goal-machine away from his home.

"When I met the lawyers and his agent, it was almost certain he would be sold to Chelsea but I left an empty seat in the meeting," Alvaro revealed.

He continued his anecdote,

"I said that the last one that sat there was Ayrton Senna, the last Brazilian idol. And that Neymar could be the next one.”

Chelsea ended up signing Oscar and for £25 million – a deal now that now looks worth every penny. But, according to Alvaro, Di Matteo had his heart set on the youngster’s compatriot.

To add further disappointment to the Blues, it now appears the player is content to stay at Santos for the foreseeable future. They feared that he might be hijacked by Spanish giants Barcelona who emerged as favourites to land the next big name in football.

But, a consolation, I suppose, is that it now looks as though neither club will prevail – Neymar may in fact spend his career in Brazil.

“Nowadays Neymar sits there and he needs to stay happy in the place where he is happy. I believe he will stay even beyond 2014."

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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