Braga president Antonio Salvador managed to convince teenage attacker Pedro Neto to snub interest from Barcelona and Manchester United in order to continue his development at the Portuguese club, the player’s father has revealed.
Neto, who was born in 2000 and only turned 17 in March, made his first-team debut in Braga’s 4-0 win against Nacional Funchal at the weekend, scoring the fourth goal after coming on as a second-half substitute.
His performances for his club and Portugal at youth level had alerted a number of Europe’s biggest clubs and he even visited Barca’s La Masia academy ahead of a potential move to the Spanish side.
However, with the promise of immediate first-team football, Neto signed a new contract with Braga in March, committing his future to the club until 2020 despite the interest from elsewhere.
“Sportingly the offers from Barcelona and Manchester United were interesting, but economically we never received an offer,” the attacker’s father, a former hockey player also called Pedro Neto, is quoted as telling Sport.
“The Braga president was also key. It was [Salvador] who convinced us that the best thing for my son was to continue with Braga.”
Salvador has come good on his promise, with Neto fast-tracked to Abel Ferreira’s first team.
But the Braga president admitted he thought he was going to lose the youngster considering the amount of interest from across Europe.
“Neto was a player we had lost, he was already out of Portugal,” Salvador told O Jogo following Neto’s goal-scoring debut.
“Barcelona and the biggest English clubs were after him. I had to spend a lot of time trying to convince him and his family that the best thing was to stay with Braga.
“The kid has been at the club for 11 years — it’s his second home — and the conditions we promised for the future convinced his parents, and [against Nacional] he showed the great quality he has and what he can bring to Braga.”