Barcelona star Neymar's lawyer prompts row over contract claim
A public disagreement has broken out between Neymar's representatives and Barcelona over whether the Brazilian's new contract will make the him the world's best-paid player.
Neymar's future has been the subject of speculation over the last 12 months, with both the player's camp and the Barca board regularly saying talks were progressing without being finalised yet, while a recent pact between the club and the Spanish tax authorities appeared to bring the agreement closer.
On Thursday, Blaugrana president Josep Maria Bartomeu said that the new contract would be announced "today, tomorrow, or very soon" and the player then tweeted that he was "very happy to continue living this dream."
Muito feliz de continuar vivendo esse sonho! VISCA BARÇA y VISCA CATALUNYA ?ﾟﾔﾵ pic.twitter.com/N8KXEgt5eA- Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) June 30, 2016
The 24-year-old's lawyer in Brazil, Marcos Motta, said on Twitter: "Come on -- understand this -- Neymar Jr and F.C. Barcelona agree to renew and sign the biggest contract in the hbiistory of football."
Vamos lá, então: Neymar Jr. e F.C. Barcelona acertam renovação e assinam o maior contrato em vigor da história do futebol.- Marcos Motta (@mottamarcos) June 30, 2016
This seemed to contradict reports in Spain which said that Neymar's new net salary would be €15 million a year, a boost from the €9.18m annually he has earned since joining Barca in summer 2013.
This would, however, still be well below the reported €39.4m Messi will earn next season, and also less than Cristiano Ronaldo currently takes home annually at Real Madrid.
Andre Cury, the Barca board's representative in Brazil who helped negotiate the controversial 2013 transfer from Santos, told Globoesporte that Motta's tweet was "idiotic," as the lawyer could not know all the details of the contracts of other players at Barca and at other top clubs.
"It was an idiotic comment, from a lawyer who wants to be famous," Cury said. "He does not have the authority to talk about a confidential contract. Much less to talk about the contracts of other Barcelona players, or the rest of the world's teams. Does he know the contracts of Barca's other players? Of PSG? Of Manchester United?"
Motta added on Twitter: "I spoke with him -- Cury -- just now on the phone. We laughed together. Just replace 'biggest' with 'best' and everything's all right! The game goes on! Hugs!"
Later on Thursday evening, Motta retweeted a message from Wagner Ribeiro, a close advisor of Neymar's father, which also appeared to be boasting about the unrivalled size of the new contract.
The tweet read: "Neymar is the most expensive footballer in the world. Congratulations Barca."
Neymar Sr. did not get into any details when he was quoted in Globoesporte confirming that a new deal had been done with Barca.
"We are continuing [at Barca] for a second stage of Neymar Jr.," he said. "We are very happy with the decision of Neymar and the Catalan club."
When the new contract is officially signed it will end speculation about other top clubs trying to hijack the negotiations, with Real Madrid, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain all having been linked with paying Neymar's current €190m release clause.
Asked at Thursday's news conference whether he thought Madrid president Florentino Perez had tried to engineer a transfer similar to when Luis Figo joined Real from rivals Barca in 2000, Bartomeu said: "I'm not aware that [Real Madrid] tried to torpedo the agreement."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan