Barcelona have revealed that they paid around 70 per cent of the £48.6m fee it cost to sign Brazilian international Neymar to a company owned by the player’s parents.
The Spanish league champions have given in to growing pressure to explain how the transfer breaks down financially, with a number of different companies apparently profiting from the 21-year-old’s move to the Nou Camp from Brazilian side Santos.
Spanish prosecutors had asked a Madrid judge to look into alleged irregularities surrounding the deal following allegations made by Barcelona board member Jordi Cases, who is one of current club president Sandro Rosell’s main opposition at the Catalan club. The judge has yet to rule on the prosecutors’ request.
Cases accused Rosell of failing to disclose how much Neymar could end up costing, with claims that the original £48.6m outlay could increase to as much as £63m – which would leave Neymar as the third most expensive player in history. Rosell has denied any wrongdoing.
Having seen allegations that a large proportion of the fee was paid to the player as a “signing bonus”, Barcelona have acknowledged that £34m was indeed paid out to N&N Consultoria Esportiva and Empresarial Ltd, a company owned by Neymar’s parents.
Separate legal action could ensue as a separate player investment fund – DIS Esporte – held a 40 per cent share of Neymar’s transfer rights during his time with Santos.
They received their share of what remained once the £34m has been deducted, but the Sao Paolo-based firm is attempting to obtain official documents regarding the transfer details after further rumours that there is a “simulated” version and a real version.
Prosecutors have since asked both Fifa and Santos to provide a breakdown of the transfer.
Barcelona have claimed that the full details of the move remain “confidential”, and have reacted furiously to the court case demanding that it be “thrown out of court” as they have not broken any laws.
A statement released by the club read: “The club provides a detailed argument as to why the lawsuit should be dismissed.
“Firstly because of the real motivation of the plaintiff (Cases), which is to use the legal system to attempt to discredit the club and its president.
“Secondly, the affidavit explains that the payment of €40 million [£34m] to N&N Consultoria Esportiva and Empresarial Ltd as part of the payment for the player is included in the €57.1 million [£48.6m] total, which the club has indicated from the first moment.
“Thirdly, the club refutes the arguments of the Finance Ministry of Jan 10, 2014, because, on the one hand, no contract simulation or mutation existed between the agreements made between the player and the N&N company in November 2011 and that signed on June 3, 2014, in order to definitely sign the player for the club.
“Finally, the club’s affidavit asks for the action to be thrown out, as it is not pertinent, necessary or corresponding to the appropriate procedural occasion.”
A previous statement, released last week, identified arch-rivals Real Madrid as prepared to launch a similar bid in order to add Neymar to their squad.
“Our rivals were prepared to do the same operation, with much more money, but due to the ability and skill of its negotiating team, FC Barcelona were able to get in first,” it read.
“The complexity of the contract, which the prosecutor calls ‘contract simulation’, has never been in itself illegal and we believe that the prosecutor’s belief that it is, is a mistake.
“Given the seriousness of this situation and although we believe in the good working of justice, we intend to act decisively to defend the honour of FCB and its president.”
The Neymar saga is yet another unwelcomed distraction to the club as they looked to retain their La Liga crown as well as return to the top of European football in their quest for another Champions League trophy.
Star player Lionel Messi, who lost the Ballon d’Or award to Cristiano Ronaldo on Monday for the first time in five years, is currently being investigated over allegations of tax evasion. His father, Jorge, appeared in court in September to give evidence to a judge after accusations that the pair had evaded €4.2m (£3.5m) in taxes. Both have denied the allegations.