Brazilian agent Wagner Ribeiro has claimed Neymar is “the cheapest player that Barcelona have ever signed” as a result of his low salary -- despite suggesting the player had personally received the controversial 40 million euro “penalty clause.”
Ribeiro represented Neymar earlier in his career and was involved in an attempt to push through a move to Chelsea as far back as summer 2010. Until now, the FIFA agent had not been prominently connected with the deal that took the player from Santos to Barca, but he dined with Neymar Sr. and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu on Monday night and has now spoken about the financial details of the transfer.
Com Presid do Barcelona Josep Maria Bartomeu e Neymar Pai no Rest La Venta: 24/2/14 pic.twitter.com/SsZ9VEB8dD— Wagner Ribeiro (@wagneribeiro_) February 25, 2014
“Neymar is the cheapest player that Barcelona have ever signed,” he told Spanish news agency EFE. “He cost 17.1 million euros [from Santos] and was on the radar of all the great clubs. He was cheaper than all the players who came up from the youth system.”
Ribeiro said that, in his view, the transfer had been very cleverly put together, although his explanation for the various components of the deal -- which remains the subject of a legal investigation in a Spanish court amid claims of “simulated contracts” -- appears to differ from the official explanation issued by the club.
Ribeiro continued: “I will explain -- the 40 million added to the 54 million over five years [in wages] makes a total of 94 million. That represents 18.8 a year. Taking away taxes of 56 percent on the net figure, 8.27 million is left a year, which is a much lower salary than he would earn at other clubs, which offered 12 million net.
“For me, Neymar could have signed for another club earning much more than he gets now, but he wanted Barcelona and that is how the operation was fixed, although it financially damaged the kid. This is the best structured operation in which I have participated in my professional life.”
Barca have said that the 17.1 million euro payment to Santos represented the transfer fee and that an additional 40 million paid to N&N -- a company owned by Neymar Sr. -- was a “penalty clause.” The club announced that additional side deals -- for services such as scouting, marketing and development work signed with both Santos and N&N -- took the total to 86.2 million euros.
The explanation offered by Barca added: “The total salary cost to the club is 56.7 million euros [gross], which is divided into three concepts: 2.7 million euros as agent commission [five percent, rather than the 10 or 15 percent paid by other clubs], a 10 million euro signing-on fee and a guaranteed salary of 44 million euros.”
However, Ribeiro’s claim that Neymar Jr. will effectively be paid 18.8 million euros a year for five years appears to contradict Barca’s position that the 40 million euro payment is not due to the player but rather a business-to-business “penalty” incurred because the Brazil international moved to the Camp Nou a year earlier than had been agreed.
Barca’s hopes of reclaiming the extra 13.6 million euros that they have paid to the tax authorities are dependent on establishing that the 40 million payment was not a means of augmenting payments to Neymar.