Journalist Jorge Nicola has claimed Barca made a £4.9m offer to sign Santos in January, when the midfielder was still part of the youth ranks at his club. After making three substitute appearances, the 18-year-old went on to make his first senior start in a Serie B win against Ponte Preta just months later and has gone on to forge a fearsome reputation throughout the months that followed.
The Brazil youth international’s 90-minute display in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Sport Recife has taken his tally to seven goals in just 33 senior appearances and his form has led to significant interest from clubs around Europe with the likes of AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain all said to be monitoring his progress.
But Nicola has suggested the only offer Vasco da Gama have received in recent months has come from Newcastle, who are said to have made an unsuccessful £17.5m bid for a midfielder that has been compared to Barcelona and Spain star Sergio Busquets.
The Magpies are believed to have placed the youngster among their list of priorities as they look to make him the third Brazilian in their squad - but Nicola has also stated Barca are ‘closely following’ Santos and revealed his ‘name is pretty strong’ within conversations at the Camp Nou.
United are said to have a strong interest in the Brazilian market with Palmeiras striker Endrick, Santos forward Angelo Gabriel and Eguino - a team-mate of Santos’ at Vasco da Gama - also linked with a move to St James Park over the last six months.