Barca confident Neymar will commit to long-term deal
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona are convinced Brazil captain Neymar will commit his long-term future to the Nou Camp as protracted negotiations between the Spanish champions and the striker continue over an extension to his current deal, which expires in June 2018.
The 24-year-old forward, who just completed his third season at Barca, has attracted the attention of several leading European clubs but his present employers are keen to play down talk that Neymar could soon be plying his trade elsewhere.
"Neymar will stay," Barca sporting director Robert Fernandez said on the club's official website (www.fcbarcelona.com).
"He will reach an agreement with Barca and he will be here for a long time," he added. "The club will make it public when the extension is to be made."
Neymar scored 31 goals in 48 appearances last season to help the club win a domestic league and cup double.
Fernandez is also confident that central defender Javier Mascherano, who has two years left on his current deal with the Catalan giants, will remain at the club.
Mascherano has been linked in the Spanish media with a move to Italian side Juventus but Barca will not want to lose another defender after Brazilian right back Dani Alves was confirmed to be leaving the club after eight seasons on Thursday.
When asked about Mascherano, Fernandez said: "We are clear. We will reach an agreement. He is a vital player for us and I don't have any doubts about whether he will stay."
The 31-year-old, who can also be deployed as a defensive midfielder, has been a regular for Barca since his arrival from Liverpool in 2010.
(Reporting by Adriana Garcia; Editing by John O'Brien)