LONDON // Neymar, the emerging talent of Brazilian football, mysteriously stayed behind in London last night amid reports that he may be exploring a move to a Premier League club.
While the rest of the Brazil squad travelled back to Sao Paulo yesterday following their 2-0 victory over Scotland at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, Neymar remained in the capital to, according to a statement released by his club, Santos, "complete a programme of media arrangements organised by Santos to ... strengthen the brand of Santos and the Santos star".
Several prominent English and French media outlets were not aware of any media opportunities with the player.
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Neymar has been a target for a raft of Europe's top clubs and, in particular, has a host of admirers in the Premier League.
Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, and Roberto Mancini, the manager of Manchester City, attended the international friendly game at Arsenal's stadium, a game in which Neymar scored twice.
Chelsea were widely linked with a move for Neymar in the English media last summer. On Saturday night Neymar met with high-profile agents Pini Zahavi and Kia Joorabchian at the team's base at the Dorchester Hotel. Joorabchian played a central role in the transfers that took Brazilians David Luiz and Ramires to Chelsea this season.
The Anglo-Iranian businessman is one of the least popular figures in the corridors of power at City but Carlos Tevez and Jo, the Brazilian striker, remain clients of his.
Asked if Neymar had remained in London to meet with Chelsea, a club spokesman declined to comment last night.
Amid talk of a move to Europe last summer, Santos tied Neymar to a new contract that is thought to be worth in the region of US$500,000 (Dh1.8 million) per month.
"The club presented a career path to the player in 2010 in which the aim was to establish him as one the three best players in the world according to the Fifa rankings while still playing for a Brazilian club, which is of great importance to the sport nationally." Neymar said on Sunday: "I'm happy at Santos and I'm not talking about anything like that just now."
The 19 year old became embroiled in a race row after it was alleged a banana was propelled onto the pitch after he scored a second-half penalty. However, it is understood an object was thrown from the North Stand, which housed the Brazil fans.
The Scotland fans were yesterday commended for their behaviour by the match commander of the Metropolitan Police. Mark Sheeran confirmed there were "no issues inside the stadium" and added, "the Scottish fans' behaviour was first class."
* With agencies