Exclusive: Fabrizio Romano names the player who convinced Chelsea not to sign Neymar

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Fabrizio Romano has provided exclusive insight into why Chelsea chose not to take up the option to sign Neymar this summer as the Brazilian forward closes in on a transfer from Paris Saint-Germain to Al Hilal.

Writing exclusively for CaughtOffside, Romano explained that he’s not aware of anything concrete between Neymar and either Manchester United or Manchester City this summer, but there was seemingly something genuine going on with Chelsea.

Still, the Blues ultimately decided not to go for it, with Romano explaining that one key reason was to protect young attacking players like Mykhaylo Mudryk.

Mudryk was a big investment for Chelsea and the Ukrainian youngster has actually been compared to Neymar in the past, so bringing in the Brazilian superstar could undoubtedly have been detrimental to his development.

It won’t have been easy to say no to a talent like Neymar, but it’s also surely true that he’d have been a bit of a gamble at this stage of his career after a lack of impact for PSG in recent times.

On the Neymar to Al Hilal deal, Romano said: “Neymar to Al Hilal – the deal is done. He’s completed his medical tests, signed a contract, and we’re waiting for an official statement. From what I’m told, Neymar will travel to Saudi Arabia on Friday together with his family. That’s the idea at the moment, for him to be announced in front of the fans as a new Al Hilal player.

“I’m aware of reports about top clubs in Europe turning down the chance to sign Neymar, but to be honest I think it’s easy to put Neymar’s name now everywhere, and from what I understand, Manchester City never discussed with Neymar, same for Manchester United.

“Chelsea were offered this chance by PSG in June and they decided to go for different, young players. It was never something concrete. They preferred to protect their young investments like Mykhaylo Mudryk.

“From speaking to those close to Neymar, it seems Barcelona were really convinced about trying to bring him back. Since Joan Laporta became president one of his ideas was to bring Neymar back to Barcelona – he’s a big fan of Neymar, and other key figures at the club had the same idea.

“But the deal was never close to being done for one reason – the manager Xavi. He was not convinced about this possibility, he probably has different ideas, and that’s why they didn’t even start the financial process to see if it could happen.”

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