Mancini jokes Zenit tried to sign PSG-bound Neymar from Barcelona

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The former Manchester City boss had a cheeky smirk on his face as he said the Russians were narrowly beaten to the Brazil star

Roberto Mancini has joked that Zenit were keen to sign Barcelona star Neymar, only to lose out to Paris Saint-Germain.

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The Brazil superstar is on the cusp of joining French champions Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222m transfer, as first revealed by Goal in October last year.

Zenit have been busy in the summer transfer market, bringing in several players including Leandro Paredes from Roma and Emanuel Mammana from Lyon.

And Mancini has joked that Zenit were also planning to spend even more money by activating Neymar's release clause.

Smirking as he spoke to the media ahead of his side's Europa League clash against Bnei Yehuda, Mancini said: “We also wanted to buy Neymar, but unfortunately, PSG beat us to him.”

Zenit take a 2-0 lead from the first leg into the reverse encounter of their third qualifying round clash against Israelian side Bnei Yehuda on Thursday.

Many of the new faces Mancini has brought into Zenit ahead of his first term at the club hail from Argentina, with Sebastian Druissi and Emiliano Rigoni joining from River Plate and Independiente respectively.

“There is nothing unusual about this, many clubs buy football players from Latin America, many clubs buy Brazilian players during the transfer window,” the ex-Manchester City boss said when asked about the club's recruitment policy.

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“We had an opportunity to buy some young, promising and very talented players. It so happened that most of them are from Argentina. 

“I hope that they will help us win in our upcoming matches, I'm very glad that they have joined us.”

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