Barcelona's Neymar saga: You want to sign our son? That will be 40 million euros, please

Neymar’s switch included the largest commission in transfer history and has led to the resignation of the club’s president

It was some first job for Josep Maria Bartomeu, the new Barcelona president, last Friday when he had to give an exhaustive PowerPoint presentation to explain how the transfer of the century – the one that brought Neymar to Barcelona – landed the club with a judicial investigation and the resignation of the president who oversaw it.

Sandro Rosell quit last week in the latest twist in a remarkable saga which has caused huge embarrassment to the Spanish champions, provided an extraordinary insight into the complexities of the multi-million-pound global transfer industry and could lead to Bartomeu, Rosell and Barcelona facing possible legal action, though all claim they have done nothing wrong.

On the back foot, with a legal inquiry pending, Bartomeu took the unprecedented step of publicising full details of a star player’s salary and the minutiae of the deal which took him from Santos last summer. It has long been speculated that the deal included a €40 million payment to Neymar’s father – by far the largest commission in football transfer history – and Friday’s statement provided official confirmation.

Astonishingly for any outsider not accustomed to the cut-throat world of the football transfer, one of the justifications provided by Bartomeu was that Real Madrid – who were also chasing Neymar’s signature – would have paid more. 

The reasons for Rosell’s decision to go were also puzzling, given the club’s insistence that they have acted entirely “correctly”, and has left many of Barcelona’s millions of followers at a loss to explain why the situation has escalated so rapidly.

Best placed to provide answers is perhaps one of their own, Jordi Cases, a Barça member who filed a complaint against the club in the autumn that led to a judge, Pablo Ruz, investigating the paperwork surrounding the Neymar deal.

Officially, according to a statement released by the club last June, he cost € 57.1m, although Santos subsequently claimed they only received €17.1m. What happened to the remainder of the cash remained a mystery until Friday when in the wake of Rosell’s resignation, Neymar Snr, the forward’s father, waived a confidentiality agreement and allowed them to make public the breakdown of the deal.

Bartomeu’s presentation confirmed that €40m went to the player’s parents, Neymar Snr and Nadine, via their company N&N. There is no suggestion Neymar’s parents have done anything wrong. It was claimed also that Barcelona paid N&N, having signed a contract with the Neymars in 2011, agreeing to pay that sum in 2014 when Neymar was due to become a free agent.

The Spanish media have suggested that this payment has potentially landed Barcelona in difficulty. Rosell explained it as a penalty for taking the player one year ahead of the time set out in the original contract but, if this reason for paying out so much to a company with such close links to the player is not accepted by the judge, then Rosell could be charged with misappropriation of funds, an offence outlined in Article 252 of Spanish law and one that could carry a prison sentence. Again, Rosell denies any wrongdoing.

A payment of €10m was also made at some point prior to last June’s deal and described as a loan but could be interpreted as a payment to a player to ensure he signs for a club at a future date – something not allowed by Fifa, the world governing body.

Another element of the deal which could be investigated are additional related contracts first revealed by El Mundo , the Spanish newspaper, and  clarified on Friday by Bartomeu.

A payment of €2m to Neymar’s father for scouting in Brazil; a payment of €4m to “Fundació Neymar Jnr” to link Neymar’s image to Barcelona’s in Brazil; a €7.9m deal with Santos concerning academy players. All these deals are admitted on the Barcelona website (though they omit the figures), but there is also an alleged payment of €2.5m to a Neymar foundation set up to help poor neighbourhoods in Sao Paolo.

Barcelona argue all these contracts have nothing to do with buying Neymar but, as it is money going from the club to the N&N company owned by the player’s parents, they are left open to a claim that this amounts to disguised wages. Barcelona deny wrongdoing.

If the outcome of the investigation leaves any doubt that the €40m to N&N and the additional contracts can’t be separated from the transfer and from the income the player earns from the club then the Spanish taxman could get involved. 

It may be no coincidence that there are plans to sit down with Lionel Messi, Barcelona’s star player, next month and improve his contract putting him on a par with Cristiano Ronaldo, who earns €18m a year rising to €21m according to bonuses. Messi earns €13m rising to €16m, trailing Ronaldo and potentially behind Neymar depending on how the details of his contract are evaluated.

Another interested party in the Neymar investigation’s outcome will be the player investment fund, DIS Esporte, which acquired 40 per cent of Neymar’s transfer rights while he was at Santos and who received that cut from the €17.1m transfer fee the Brazilian club say they charged Barcelona. DIS, too, may pursue Barcelona now if they have reason to believe that the final fee has been inflated by the additional contracts.

In a statement, Rosell said: “Everything we have said about the Neymar transfer is correct.” But it has led to a change of president, who claims to have received threats to his family forcing him to resign. At the same time, new light has been cast on the complex and often murky world of the international transfer market.

Neymar salary

Five-year contract

€44m in wages, 8.8m per year

€2.7m as agent commission

€10m signing-on fee

Total: €56.7m

Neymar fee

€17m to Santos

€40m “compensation paid” to the N&N company (owned by Neymar da Silva and Nadine, his parents)

plus a bonus of €2m to Santos if he makes the Ballon D’Or top three.

Total: €59.1m (including Ballon D’Or bonus) 

Additional deals

Barcelona have also struck other agreements with “connected “ organisations including*:

- A deal with Fundació Neymar Jnr, a commercial agent, to link Neymar’s image with the club’s in Brazil

- A deal with Santos concerning academy players

- A deal with N&N, who will scout young talent at the Brazilian club

*From the club’s website. They did not reveal the cost of these deals


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