By Pete Mulroy, May 23, 2013 02:10 PM EDT
(PHOTO CREDIT: Creative Commons) Brazilian star Neymar may be close to joining Lionel Messi and Barcelona.
One of the most popular and storied franchises in professional soccer may be close to adding some additional firepower heading into the 2013-2014 season.
Following a season in which they were dominated in the semifinal round of the UEFA Champions League tournament by Bayern Munich, Barcelona is surely looking to improve their team on all fronts and the club may be close to signing one of the most explosive players in the game.
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According to multiple sources, Brazilian soccer star Neymar -- who currently plays for Santos -- continues to be a highly-regarded talent across the wide spectrum of soccer and is highly coveted by Barcelona, who already has the greatest player on the planet in Lionel Messi.
Current Santos head coach Muricy Ramalho admits that it will certainly be hard to hold onto the rising superstar because he is wanted by numerous organizations.
"There were rumors before and nothing happened,'' Ramalho said to Sports Illustrated. "But this time they really seem more serious. The rumors have picked up steam. When the market opens, we know there is this possibility. It will be a huge loss, the club will miss him.''
In four seasons with the Brazilian football club, the 21-year-old forward has notched 54 goals in 102 matches, making him one of the most talented offensive players in the game. As the rumors continue to swirl around the fact that the Mogi das Cruzes native is set to join Barcelona, Lionel Messi offered his support toward the acquisition, if in fact it does take place.
"Only the player knows if he will sign for the club or not, nobody else knows," Messi said in an interview with Alkass TV. "For us he would be a marvelous addition. He is the type of player who offers individual solutions different from the rest. He is a great player, who is very good in one-on-ones with opponents."
If Neymar is intent on joining the European power, the transaction could become somewhat of a headache as the superstar has his personal soccer rights divvied up between multiple stakeholders. Santos owns 55 percent of the players' rights while DIS Esporte (40 percent) and Teisa (5 percent) round out the final total, according to ESPN.
Despite contractual confusion, some reports say the young forward has already completed a deal with Barca and he'll begin his work with the club at the conclusion of the 2012-2013 campaign. Brazilian newspaper O Globo is reporting that Neymar signed a contract last week that affords him the ability to begin team activities with Barcelona once July 1, 2013 rolls around.
While rumors will continue to swirl about the career choices of Neymar, fellow Brazilian national teammate Lucas Moura knows the 21-year-old will not have any problem finding success with the talented European squad.
"Neymar will conquer Europe when he comes," Moura, who currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain told O Globo. "It is a fantastic experience on and off the field, playing different championships against the best in the world and seeing what the cities offer here."
Transfer rumors are certainly constant news generators in the world of soccer and this current situation surrounding Neymar is no different.
Wherever the superstar plays next season, you can be sure that he'll have a major impact every time he takes to the pitch.