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Neymar chose Barcelona 'project' over money

ESPN staff
May 27, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Neymar chose Barcelona for sporting reasons, according to Tito Vilanova © PA Photos
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Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova insists Neymar's decision to join the La Liga champions was based on "a sporting project and not a financial one".

Vilanova spoke following Barcelona's defeat of derby rivals Espanyol on Sunday, and praised the Brazilian starlet for choosing his club over the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

"We have to congratulate the technical staff for the signing of Neymar," Vilanova explained.

"It is an important signing. We have been very attentive for some time because he could have had other, and better, proposals.

"I also have to congratulate Neymar for choosing a sporting project and not a financial one. I have confidence he will do well in Europe and he will help us to become even greater.

"Neymar is the player we were looking for. We asked two and a half years ago. The club has been very successful and has done things very well, as we did with Jordi Alba last year. He progressed very well with the rest.

"His qualities are well known. All we are interested in is that he is a high-level player.

"If they say Neymar is a 'YouTube player' then it's a good thing, because he has had some great games and great goals. He has chosen Barcelona because he believes he can adapt well to our play. If he had been looking for money, there would have been nothing for Barca to do.

"It's a dream to have an attack like this. With so many better players we will have more chances to win. Now, we have to combine them in the best way, as we have done before. If Neymar comes it is because Barca are a long-term option for him."

Neymar played his final game for Santos on Sunday, starting in a 0-0 draw with Flamengo. Afterwards he revealed his excitement at the prospect of playing alongside Barcelona's stars.

"To play with Messi, Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta is a great honour," he said. "It's a dream to be going to Barca. I leave Santos through the front door. I hope to return to my second home [in future], which is Santos.

"I feel fantastic, very happy and grateful to Santos and I'm already thinking about Barca."

Meanwhile, Vilanova - whose side remain on track to notch 100 competition points in La Liga next weekend - took time to wish outgoing Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho well as he prepares to exit the Santiago Bernabeu. The pair clashed on numerous occasions, including an infamous 'eye-poke' incident while Vilanova was Pep Guardiola's assistant.

"His arrival created a real buzz. He is one of the best coaches, and one of the most successful. I wish him well and wish him luck," Vilanova added. "He has always managed to win. It's in his own way, but he has always managed to win."

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