Barcelona say a Spanish court investigation into Neymar’s transfer from Santos last summer is unjustified and should be immediately dismissed.
Audiencia Nacional judge Pablo Ruz is investigating the case taken by disgruntled blaugrana socio Jordi Cases, who claims Barca president Sandro Rosell and other board members have not revealed all the details of the transfer to Barca’s members.
While no details of the investigation have officially been made public, leaks to the Madrid media have claimed that suspicions of the existence of a "simulated contract" have been raised, with two different versions existing. It now appears that public prosecutors in the Spanish capital have asked both FIFA and Santos for their versions of the documentation, to ensure that no legal or accounting sleight of hand has taken place.
The Catalan club has issued a strongly worded statement demanding the "unnecessary" investigation be stopped, while suggesting that it is being unfairly targeted by the prosecuting judge.
“Futbol Club Barcelona (FCB) wishes to express its indignation at the report released on Friday by the Fiscal de l’Audiencia Nacional (National Public Prosecutor’s Office) concerning the signing of Neymar da Silva Santos Junior,” the statement said.
“It seems strange indeed that the prosecutor’s office, having asked for the players’ contracts and the annual accounts of the Club, it should now decide to instigate further action without showing any interest in the defendants.
"It is also hard to understand why the prosecutor has called on entities such as FIFA or Santos FC to present documents, which FC Barcelona is willing and able to provide, as they did on Dec. 26 last year. The prosecutor’s decision casts doubts on what was an impeccable operation and one which has allowed FC Barcelona, for 57 million euros, to obtain the services of a much sought-after player. It is also wrong that new actions are being taken for actions which will lengthen a process we have always considered baseless and unnecessary.”
Barca’s claim that just 57 million euros was paid has been challenged by Cases, and other observers, who say that various add-ons mean the total outlay is as much as 74 million euros. It is also alleged that 40 million euros of the fee went to Neymar and his family as a "signing bonus," which has led to legal action being taken by third-party investors in Brazil who feel they have been cut out of the deal.
Barca’s statement did not deal directly with these issues, but did suggest that the paperwork on the transfer had to be completed quickly as La Liga rivals Real Madrid had been trying to hijack the move.
“The signing of Neymar Da Silva Santos Junior involved complex and difficult negotiation,” it said. “We are aware of this and have expressed this every time we have been referred to the confidential character of some of the agreements in the contract.
"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. 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.”