Neymar to stay with Santos until 2014 World Cup

Neymar has agreed to a new contract with Santos that ties him to

the Brazilian club until the South American country hosts the 2014

World Cup.

Despite widespread rumors of a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona,

Neymar said Wednesday he made the decision to stay with Santos

because it’s where he believes he will be the happiest.

Brazil’s most promising young star in years, Neymar said the

contract will allow him to stay near his family and friends for as

long as possible.

”Here is where I’m happy and here is where I want to stay,” he

said at a news conference. ”I’ve always said that happiness would

play a significant role in my decision. It wasn’t an easy decision

but I’m happy here, with my family, my friends and my

teammates.”

The 19-year-old Neymar said that being near his baby also was

key. He is not married but became the father of a boy last

August.

”It’s been a wonderful experience and I want to be here to see

my son grow up,” he said. ”I wouldn’t have a lot of contact with

him playing abroad. Santos fans have to thank him too for my

decision to stay.”

Wearing a jersey with the words, ”It’s good to be the king,”

Neymar said he is honored to be wanted by Real Madrid and Barcelona

but that it is just as important to be able to wear the famous

Santos shirt.

”I’m wearing the jersey that Pele wore and I’ll be playing in

some of the best tournaments in the world, like the Copa

Libertadores and the Club World Cup, which is what I always said

that I wanted to do,” Neymar said.

Santos president Luis Alvaro Ribeiro said his club will never be

able to compete with offers from many European teams but that

Neymar will earn more money in the new deal.

”When we signed a contract last August, he was already an idol

and a notable player,” Ribeiro said. ”But when we discussed the

contract now, we are talking about a legend, so it’s natural that

we revised the financial details to make justice to what Neymar is

doing for Santos.”

There was also an increase in the buyout clause, but Ribeiro

wouldn’t disclose the new amount. It was worth ?45 million ($62

million) in the previous contract.

Ribeiro said he personally called the presidents of Madrid and

Barcelona to let them know that Neymar had reached the deal to stay

with Santos.

At the news conference in the coastal city of Santos, Ribeiro

gave the striker a jersey with the words ”Neymar Jr 2014.”

Neymar, who will be 22 by the World Cup, rejected an offer worth

millions from Chelsea last year and Ribeiro said other clubs that

had contacted Santos to show interest in signing the speedy striker

included Manchester City and Anzhi Makhachkala of Russia.

One of the 23 candidates in the running for the FIFA world

player of the year award, Neymar is expected to lead Brazil’s

attack at the World Cup.

He became well known after helping Santos win the traditional

Sao Paulo state championship and the Brazilian Cup last year.

Interest grew after playing well for Brazil, and he established

himself for good after leading Santos to the Copa Libertadores

title earlier this year.

Neymar became known as the ”New Robinho” – the skillful Brazil

striker he resembles – and now some fans are even saying that he

may eventually come close to the level of Pele, who led Santos to

its previous Copa Libertadores titles in 1962 and ’63.

He will be the team’s top star when Santos plays in FIFA’s Club

World Cup in December, a tournament in which Barcelona will also

participate.

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