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WHAT COULD'VE BEEN?

Remembering when West Ham came very close to signing a teenage Neymar

Back in the summer of 2010 West Ham nearly jumped the queue to sign Neymar from Santos

Julien Faubert picks up the pass from Tal Ben-Haim, waiting for the overlapping run from Jonathan Spector.

He crosses into the box for Carlton Cole who completely scuffs his shot, but luckily Neymar is on hand to tuck home for West Ham.

Nope, this isn’t a Barcelona fan’s worst nightmare. It could have been a genuine soundbite from Match of the Day during the 2010/11 season.

NOT PICKED YOUR FANTASY FOOTBALL TEAM YET? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Definitely not photoshopped

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Definitely not photoshopped

The Hammers have never been shy when it comes to importing highly-rated players from South America.

Four years earlier they’d completed the double signing of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, much to the surprise of scouts and journalists across the continent who’d watched the pair develop.

Fast forward to July 2010 and Neymar was a skinny teenager at Santos, the club famous for producing Pele and Robinho, with only a handful of first-team appearances to his name.

‘You want a plate of jellied eels Neymar?’

Reuters
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‘You want a plate of jellied eels Neymar?’

His flair was evident to the extent that every top side in Europe was fluttering their eyelids and queuing up for his signature.

But West Ham made the first move.

A £12million bid from the Hammers was announced by Santos director of football Pedro Luiz Nunes, along with a word of warning for potential suitors.

Nunes said: “Our position is clear, we do not open negotiations. These athletes only leave the club by paying the release clause.”

Neymar squared

AP:Associated Press
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Neymar squared

So what was this release clause Santos were so insistent on?

Just £28.4mil. Yep, a bid of less than £30m would have been enough to bring Neymar to east London.

To be fair, paying £30m for an uncapped teenager would have been a brave move back then.

But with the power of hindsight West Ham would have made that bid before you could say ‘drawn out transfer to PSG’.

Don’t feel to sorry for West Ham though, they ended up with Frederic Piquionne instead.

Sign on the dotted line

Mark Craig - The News of the World Glasgow
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Sign on the dotted line

Have you signed up to play fantasy football yet?

If the answer is no you need to take a long, hard look at yourself.

Because the Dream Team game – the UK’s biggest fantasy football game – is back and better than ever this season.

You’ve got a £50m budget to pick 11 players, with all the biggest new signings ready and raring to go ahead of a mouthwatering new Premier League campaign.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up to play now!