Neymar reveals interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona

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The Independent Football

Brazil striker Neymar has admitted Barcelona and Real Madrid were interested in signing him this summer.

Neymar is considered to be one of Brazil's brightest prospects and he already has six international goals and 11 caps to his name despite being just 19 years old.

His excellent form with Santos this season is said to have caught the eye of a number of Europe's biggest clubs, with Manchester City, Chelsea and Spain's two biggest sides, Real and Barca, interested in signing the player.

Santos refuted claims last week they had agreed a deal to sell Neymar to the European champions, but it appears only a matter of time before he leaves South America.

A £40million release clause is thought to have been inserted in to the contract the youngster signed last year to ward off potential suitors, but both Spanish clubs remain keen on signing the player.

Neymar said: "Yes, the two (Barcelona and Real Madrid) approached me, but it was my desire to stay at Santos. But it's never a hindrance. My self-esteem is even better for being wanted by two big clubs. If they come to see me again, who knows."

Neymar was the star of the show once again for the Selecao in last night's 1-0 victory over Ghana at Craven Cottage in London.

The striker linked well with match-winner Leandro Damiao and veteran forward Ronaldinho, who was making his first appearance for the five-time world champions in 10 months.

Many have suggested Ronaldinho's recall was a cynical ploy by Brazil manager Mano Menezes to win back some support following his team's poor showing in the Copa America, where they lost to Paraguay on penalties at the quarter-final stage.

Menezes denies this and at times last night, the recall looked to be a good move for both parties as the 31-year-old showed glimpses of his former self in the second half.

Ronaldinho, who has undergone a late renaissance with Flamengo following a disappointing spell at AC Milan, was happy to turn out for his country again.

"I'm enjoying a very happy moment in my career, I can enjoy myself and do what I love the most with great joy," Ronaldinho said.

"It's always a new experience playing for the national team. Am I the Big Daddy of this group? No. I'm just a more experienced friend.

"It's great to receive this love, to have respect of the younger players and work alongside them. I think there will be opportunities."

Damiao's strike, a cool finish from 12 yards on the stroke of half- time, was the first for his country.

The 22-year-old Internacional striker, who was a target for Tottenham this summer, was overwhelmed with emotion after the match.

"The goal brought a joy that I can't explain," he said. "Every player dreams of wearing this shirt and to score a goal in it.

"Everything is going well, everything is happening is the best way. And the team needed this victory. My face was wet with both the rain and emotion."

The match also marked the return of full-back Marcelo, who was left out of Menezes' Copa America squad after the two clashed over his availability for the country's friendly against Scotland in March.

The pair appear to have patched up their differences though and Marcelo is happy to be playing for his country again.

"I'm very happy to return to the national team and to win another game," Marcelo said.

"I'm happy with my performance against Ghana and hope to play more minutes in the shirt."