Real Madrid legend Roberto Carlos has backtracked on his recent comments that he could convince Manchester United target Neymar to make the move from Barcelona to the Santiago Bernabeu, should president Florentino Perez hand him a role in Zinedine Zidane's staff. The former Brazilian star says that he is still likely to return to the Spanish giants, but that he was only joking over his intention to sign Neymar.
United tried to secure the services of the Brazilian star during the summer mercato, confirmed by both Neymar himself and his father earlier this season, following reports from Brazilian newspaper Globo Esporte that Louis van Gaal was ready to meet his release clause of €190m (£144.9m, £209m).
Mundo Deportivo claimed in December that the Premier League giants, as well Los Blancos and Paris Saint-Germain, were monitoring the situation ahead of a new move for the player – after his father had warned that Neymar would not renew his contract at Barcelona until his tax issues were solved.
Roberto Carlos previously promised to help Real Madrid beat other suitors for Neymar if he was allowed back at the Bernabeu.
"I can make Neymar join Real Madrid," the Brazilian said during an interview with Punto Pelota. "Before he moved to Barcelona [from Santos in 2013] I already spoke with him about [a potential move to Real Madrid]. Of course, if the president gives me the opportunity to be at Madrid I will talk every day with him to convince him to come to work with us. We are good friends.
The Brazilian legend, however, has now claimed that he was just joking, admitting that it is almost impossible for the Brazilian to swap the Nou Camp for Barcelona's main rivals.
"It's an impossibility, really very difficult. Real Madrid always try to attract the best players in the world but I was joking when I said that and it was taken seriously," the club icon said, as quoted by Marca.
"I'm delighted that Real Madrid have expressed an interest in having me work with them and I'm here to watch the training sessions and learn. I've just started the most advanced stage of my course. I've been coaching for five years now in Turkey, Russia and India. I'm going to hang on because there's much I've still to learn. I know the club well but I'll give it time and see what happens. For the time being I'm just learning."
Carlos's comments may give United fresh hopes to renew their efforts to make the Brazilian star their marquee signing of the summer – especially after the recent Real Madrid transfer ban complicated a move for Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale.