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13th Nov 2015

Chelsea came close to signing Neymar by using the Berbatov airport hijack technique

Almost a Blue

Ben Kiely

Chelsea almost signed the next best player in the world, according to former Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro.

Ribeiro revealed in his biography that the London club tabled a €30m bid for Neymar in 2010, but Santos rejected it, according to Sambafoot.

The former Santos president was also critical of Chelsea’s behaviour in their dealings with Neymar. He claimed the Blues set up a secret meeting with the player, his father (who also acts as his agent) and Chelsea representative Pini Zahavi in New York, prior to Neymar’s full international debut in a friendly against the USA.

Ribeiro says that when Neymar arrived to São Paulo Guarulhos airport, there were two cars waiting for him. One provided by his club Santos and another by Chelsea’s suitors. However, Chelsea didn’t get their way as the Santos representatives ordered Neymar into their car and the player complied, ignoring Chelsea’s advances.


The tale is reminiscent of a failed version of how Dimitar Berbatov ended up at Old Trafford back in 2008, when Sir Alex Ferguson met the Bulgarian at Manchester airport to bring him to United’s training ground. This eventually saw him sign for United for a fee of around £30.75m.

Spurs had reportedly not given the Red Devils permission to talk to Berbatov at that point as they had agreed a £34m fee with Manchester City instead.