SAO PAULO: Santos are playing the “usual game” with Europe’s top clubs by preparing a contract extension offer for South American Footballer of the Year Neymar.

The player’s current contract, agreed only last November, expires in 2014. He has said he wants to stay in Brazil until the World Cup that year even though world, European and Spanish champions Barcelona have bought a ‘first option’ on any transfer before then.

Santos do not own all of Neymar’s contract and would receive less than half of any fee. Hence the club – as previously with Robinho – usually undertakes various manoeuvres to try to push the eventual price as high as possible.

This latest proposal can be seen in that context.

Club president Luis Alvaro Ribeiro said: “Santos is reliving the Pele era.┬áNeymar is a phenomenon and without equal. Let’s see if in two years we can start a new project together. He has said he doesn’t want to leave Santos.”

Last week Neymar signed a new four-year sponsorship deal with German car manufacturer Volkswagen. His list of private sponsors has now reached 10 and includes global brands like Nike, Panasonic, Red Bull and Santander.

Such is Neymar’s marketing appeal that Santos contributes less than 10p of his reported monthly salary of $1.6m.

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