Why Man Utd must navigate a stubborn president and messy divorce to land Sao Paulo star Lucas

Sao Paulo's board want to accept Manchester United's offer for Lucas Moura.
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Sao Paulo's board want to accept Manchester United's offer for Lucas Moura.

But United will still have to navigate a stubborn Juvenal Juvencio, the Sao Paulo president, and a celebrity divorce to clinch an agreement.

United have tabled a £25 million bid for Lucas, which, if it was a routine transfer, would be enough to have the exciting attacking midfielder packing his bags for Manchester this month.

But the breakup of Lucas's transfer rights means Juvencio is pushing for United to up their offer by at least another £5 million to cover fees owed to the player's family and super agent Wagner Ribeiro.

Sources close to the Sao Paulo board say they regard the offer as "wonderful" and with plans to renovate their Morumbi stadium the money will be welcome. But Juvenal is convinced if United are willing to offer £25 million now, they can pushed into going to £30 million before the summer market shuts next month.

Juvenal wants all the cash to go into Sao Paulo's coffers and has already spoken with Lucas' parents and Ribeiro about foregoing their percentages in the deal. Both parties would be due a cool ten per cent each - or £5 million - if the current offer was accepted.

Ribeiro needs the cash after being taken to the cleaners in a messy divorce, while Lucas' Dad is adamant about his family's cut. Jorge Rodriguez isn't one to be messed about by football's moneymen. He pulled Lucas out of Corinthians after they refused to enroll him in a private school and failed to put him on a serious diet and fitness programme.

Even when he took Lucas to Sao Paulo, an attempt by Corinthians to rescue the situation was blanked by Jorge.

Lucas is following developments from Brazil's Olympics camp and is 100 per cent behind his father's stand.

For Ribeiro, the cash involved is also needed - some say desperately. It's been the high-profile agent whose been driving Lucas' move to Europe this summer.

First there was a meeting with Real Madrid and a tour of the Santiago Bernabeu by Lucas' parents. Then he met with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, thanks to his relationship with super agent Pini Zahavi, who is close to the Russian. But in both instances, the asking price demanded by Juvencio was deemed too rich.

Back and forth. Back and forth. Between Europe and Brazil. Ribeiro has attempted to find a club willing to meet Sao Paulo's valuation. Inter Milan have also been approached, but again they recoiled at Lucas' price-tag.

Now United have stepped in with a concrete bid and an offer of light at the end of a long tunnel for Ribeiro. But Juvencio sees the chance to squeeze more money out of the English club and has left Ribeiro sweating.

"There's no time limit, I will know the right time to leave. I'm young, I'm 19 years old, I am enjoying this moment to play in my country. Of course I have the dream of playing in a major championships, but I will only go at the right time," insisted Lucas.

But it will be no long game of poker for Juvencio. Sao Paulo directors have already made it clear to him that they can't risk passing up this opportunity to sell a player, yet to establish himself as a regular with the Selecao, for such a price.
And there's the matter of a fresh clause in Lucas' current deal which has directors concerned.

On August 1, Lucas' contract will have to be improved from £10,000-a-week to nearer to £15,000-a-week. But even more worrying for the club's accountants is another ten per cent of any fee will be lost to Ribeiro and Lucas' family.

For all parties concerned, time is ticking.

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