Brazil striker Neymar will stay
at Santos until 2014, the year his country stages the World Cup
finals, the teenager said after signing a new and improved
contract on Wednesday.
The gifted 19-year-old has rejected offers from big European
clubs, notably Barcelona and Real Madrid, to stay at home and
become one of the world's richest footballers.
"I'm very happy, it's another decision I'm taking in my
life, a family decision," Neymar told a news conference where he
was handed a Santos shirt with the number 2014 on it by club
president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira.
"There was interest [from other clubs] but my father didn't
tell me about any concrete offers. I always said I wanted to
De Oliveira said Neymar was tired of speculation about his
"Neymar has got tired of being 'sold' to Barcelona and Real
Madrid in these last months. The truth is he will stay at Santos
until 2014," he said.
Local media said Neymar would earn around 3 million
Brazilian real ($1.73 million) per month in salary and
sponsorship, about 20.4 million a year.
Englishman David Beckham is the world's highest paid football
player, according to Forbes magazine, earning $40 million a
year, followed by Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo on $38 million.
The highest paid Brazil-based footballer is Ronaldinho, who
returned home this year to play for Flamengo and is fifth on $24
million per year.
Neymar, who helped Santos win the elite South American Copa
Libertadores this year, said his own form and that of his club
helped with his decision to stay in Brazil.
"No-one knows what might happen tomorrow and this moment in
my life is marvellous," Neymar said with a wide grin.
"It's a choice that wasn't very difficult because I'm happy
here, I play for marvellous fans... and for the joy of staying
in my Brazil, there is no better country.
"I hope to continue writing history," added Neymar, father
of a three-month old baby and among the 23 players vying for the
title of FIFA World Player of the Year.
Neymar first rejected an offer from abroad more than a year
ago when he opted to stay at Santos after an approach by Chelsea
and the Brazilian club added a clause putting the price to break
his contract at 45 million euros. This sum was increased in the
new contract but Santos did not give details.
The teenager has become a key member of the team Brazil
coach Mano Menezes is building to host the World Cup and is
their top scorer under Menezes with eight goals.
Neymar wore a black shirt with the phrase "It's good to be
king" in English on it but told reporters there was only one
king in football in an obvious reference to Pele.
De Oliveira, however, believes Neymar can rival Pele in the
eyes of Brazil fans.
"Santos want to show that things can be different. We no
longer accept the idea of [Brazil as] an underdeveloped country,
always at the mercy of economic powers," he said.
"Neymar is staying to consolidate himself as an idol. What's
more, from now you will be witnesses to the birth of a myth."
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