Barcelona president suggests Real Madrid behind Neymar transfer case

Reuters , Wednesday 4 Feb 2015

Barcelona's player Neymar from Brazil (Photo: Reuters)

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu insinuated that bitter enemies Real Madrid had a part to play in the Neymar transfer court case in which he has been called to give evidence.

"We have done nothing wrong and we will keep saying the truth. The signing of Neymar took place using the most prestigious lawyers," Bartomeu told Spanish television.

"Other clubs wanted to sign Neymar paying more money but they didn't manage it and they didn't like that. Someone now has overstepped the line.

"I'm not saying Madrid are behind this but Neymar's father told me that there were two offers: Barca and Madrid. Madrid wanted to buy him and were ready to pay more for him.

"A year ago Neymar was playing well and then all this fuss suddenly came up. Maybe somebody doesn't like him. Now again he is playing well and there is another judicial process."

Bartomeu also suggested that there is a political campaign against the club over its prominent role in Catalan nationalism.

"A year ago we allowed the Camp Nou to be used for the Liberty Concert, we play with the colours of the Senyera (the Catalan flag) ... maybe that isn't liked," he said.

"I can see a sport and politics issue but we are going to keep going as we are and reach the end which is my role. We are paying a political price."

Bartomeu will be questioned on Feb. 13 over whether Barcelona and their directors defrauded the Spanish tax office of 2.8 million euros ($3.21 million) during the 2014 tax year.

Barcelona initially claimed that the cost of the Neymar transfer from Santos ahead of last season was 57.1 million euros ($65.41 million) but the case was taken to court by a fan seeking transparency over the deal.

Former president Sandro Rosell resigned in January, 2014, after a judge decided to investigate and call him to testify.

Bartomeu, having replaced Rosell, gave a breakdown of the cost of the Neymar transfer which revealed that it amounted to 86.2 million euros ($98.75 million) with the inclusion of payments to the player and his family.

Judge Pablo Ruz feels there is sufficient argument to investigate a claim that tax was not paid on an outstanding installment of the transfer that took place at the start of Bartomeu's presidency in January last year.

Bartomeu's pending court appearance is the latest incident in a troubled year for him at the helm of the club.

The boardroom crisis in the aftermath of a transfer ban for two windows over the signing of foreign under-18 players led him to bring forward presidential elections to the end of this season.

($1 = 0.8729 euros)

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