Barcelona forward Neymar has revealed he held talks about a possible move to Manchester United this summer.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward flew to Barcelona earlier in August.
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At the time it was widely believed he had flown to Catalonia to try to tie up a deal for Pedro, who eventually joined Chelsea, but it has since emerged he had launched an audacious bid to sign Neymar.
When asked about United's interest, the Barca star told ESPN Brazil: "We had conversations, but there was nothing concrete.
"I heard that there were offers but none were made to me."
Neymar joined Barcelona from Santos in 2013 and scored 22 league goals in Barca's title-winning campaign last term.
He wants to keep on improving at the Nou Camp this year.
"I want to keep giving my all and evolve season to season," he said. "I hope I will be on the Ballon d'Or podium this year."
European Club Association Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge addressed the media after the 15th General Assembly in Geneva.
“I always have confidence in my players but we don’t only have Wayne Rooney in the striker’s position. We have Adnan Januzaj.”
After Manchester United beat Club Brugge in the first leg of their Champions League play-off, Louis van Gaal dropped a strong hint that young Belgian Adnan Januzaj was a part of his attacking plans for the season.
Fifteen days later and United no longer have Januzaj, who was loaned to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of the season after a bizarre change of stance that actually fits pretty perfectly with the chaotic way in which the Red Devils finished their summer’s business.
In a dramatic end to the transfer window, Januzaj joined Javier Hernandez in moving to Germany, though the Mexican’s is a permanent switch to Bayer Leverkusen, while the remarkable £36 million arrival of Anthony Martial and failed sale of David De Gea also understandably drew headlines. From the outside, United’s transfer policy appears to be off-the-cuff, devoid of a clear and logical plan.
SHORT ON FIREPOWER
With United seemingly short on attacking options, having scored just three goals in their opening four Premier League games and Wayne Rooney struggling to make an impact in a central striker role, defeat to Swansea reiterated the urgency with which the forward line needed bolstering. Martial has arrived to much fanfare but at 19 years of age he is a raw talent, making the departures of Hernandez and Januzaj even more confusing.
Last season’s loan spell at Real Madrid and his reluctance to use him to ease the burden on Rooney in the early stages of this campaign suggests Van Gaal was never convinced by Hernandez so his exit was perhaps to be expected. However the departure of Januzaj – a 20-year-old loaded with potential and who has started four games under Van Gaal this term – came as more of a surprise. If there was a debt for Van Gaal to pay his young charge for winning United’s game at Aston Villa, the manager has shown no intention of paying it, even sacrificing Januzaj at half-time in Brugge after a ineffectual first period.
Three goals came in the second half, with United appearing more fluid with Ander Herrera playing behind Rooney and though Januzaj missed the loss to Swansea through injury, it appears a poor 45 minutes was enough to convince Van Gaal that he does not need the Belgian – regardless of the apparent shortage of threat and guile in the final third.
UNITED’S LOSS IS DORTMUND’S GAIN
With the reign of Thomas Tuchel starting apace with 11 goals from their opening three Bundesliga matches (on top of the 17 in their four Europa League qualifying ties), Dortmund is an exciting place for Januzaj to be heading. Top of the table going into the season’s first international break, Dortmund have now added further dynamism with one of Europe’s top young talents.
With Jakub Blaszczykowski allowed out on loan to Fiorentina and Ciro Immobile leant to Sevilla, it opens up a place for Januzaj, who has been given the No. 9 shirt and will join Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus and Shinji Kagawa in a potent forward-line that seems to now be gelling under Tuchel after a difficult end to the Jurgen Klopp era.
— Bundesliga (@Bundesliga_EN) September 1, 2015
TUCHEL’S APPROACH SHOULD SUIT JANUZAJ
A more patient, measured attacking style – in contrast to Klopp’s heavy-pressure style – in which players are urged to play short, crisp passes across the pitch to ensure more efficient use of possession has helped Dortmund this season. Januzaj’s vast technical ability, as well as his clever movement, should see him adapt quickly to Tuchel’s approach.
The hyper-attentive culture of Tuchel, a manager who likes detailed input on diet, fitness and even where players position their feet, is also likely to be a better education for Januzaj at this stage; Van Gaal has found time and patience so scarce that he could not make room in his team for the £57 million talent of Angel Di Maria.
Pleased to sign for Dortmund ! Looking forward to new season pic.twitter.com/dhEOhz45i5
— Adnan Januzaj (@adnanjanuzaj) August 31, 2015
The absence of a permanent deal at least suggests that Van Gaal is hoping Januzaj can return to United a more accomplished force having undertaken this vital stage of his development away from the hustle and bustle of the Premier League. Tuchel had success nurturing the talents of Sami Khedira and Sebastian Rudy at Stuttgart, as well as Andre Schurrle at Mainz, while the loan deals for Schalke’s Lewis Holtby and Real Madrid’s Adam Szalai greatly contributed to the 2010-11 season in which he guided Mainz to fifth in the Bundesliga, their highest ever finish.
United will be hoping he can work similar magic in progressing Januzaj who definitely possesses the promise, but requires the correct tutelage and guidance to produce it on a regular basis.
THE BEST FOR BOTH PARTIES?
It can be argued that United are right to prioritise the needs of the player ahead of the need for attacking options in a season that promises to be hugely pivotal to the manager in charge. Van Gaal will be aware that Januzaj will be better learning in an environment where the spotlight is not thrust upon him so vigorously and where the pressure to impress is not so greatly felt. The opportunity to have Januzaj blossom in these exciting times for Dortmund is one United couldn’t miss out on, despite the paucity of numbers in their own attack.