A cut-price move for the Brazilian was mulled over in 2008 after he impressed in a youth tournament, but he was ultimately considered too costly
Neymar’s career, which has made him a €222 million asset at Paris Saint-Germain, could have been markedly different had Lokomotiv Moscow not decided against a move in 2008.
After seeing the Brazilian forward star for Santos during the Mediterranean Cup youth tournament, the Russian giants mulled over a €10m approach.
They were, however, to reach the conclusion that the required transfer package was too costly and a risk not worth taking on the precocious teenager.
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Instead, Lokomotiv placed trust in a promising youngster on their own books, Alan Gatagov – a decision which has been made to look rather foolish in hindsight.
“We thought about whether or not it was worth buying Neymar,” former Lokomotiv president Nikolai Naumov told Sport-Express .
“We wanted to buy him. Our scouts watched the Brazilian.
“There were quite big doubts. First, he was too young. Second, it was unclear how he’d adapt to Russia… so we decided against getting him.
“It would have been around €10m, probably. You understand, paying so much for a youngster from another continent… you have to be careful with this sort of thing.
“Yes, we did lose in the final, but I didn’t notice that Neymar played any better than the others. Alan Gatagov looked just as good.”
By March 2009, Neymar was making his senior debut for Santos and taking the first tentative steps on a path that has led him to the very top of the game.
A goal-laden spell in his native Brazil brought him to the attention of heavyweight sides in Europe, and Barcelona won the race for his signature in 2013.
Having landed numerous major trophies with the La Liga giants, and added another 105 goals to his tally, the 25-year-old then became the most expensive footballer of all-time when heading to France in the summer of 2017 .
In contrast, Gatagov struggled to fulfil his early potential and has been without a club for almost a year now after parting company with Estonian outfit Levadi Tallinn in February last year.