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Judge to investigate Neymar deal

A Spanish judge has agreed to investigate Neymar’s move to Barcelona from Santos last summer following a complaint by a Barcelona socio over the transfer.

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Investigating judge Pablo Ruz has formally decided to accept the petition that it look formally at the deal, in which Barca say they paid 57 million euros but others say as much as 95 million euros may have changed hands.

The court is to ask FIFA and the Neymar & Neymar (N&N) agency run by the player’s father for the various documents lodged for the transfer, amid reports that different versions of the contracts involved exist. The court has also requested to see the alleged side-agreements made with Santos, which are said to have involved payments of 7.9 million euros being paid for options on three other young players and nine million euros for two friendly games.

Barca club president Sandro Rosell had repeatedly claimed that a confidentiality agreement has prevented him disclosing exactly who was paid what in the deal, and the Catalan club has admitted the deal was “complex” but strongly criticised the investigation and hinted at a conspiracy against them based from Madrid.

As details of the investigation leaked out, and pressure mounted, Rosell said on Monday that he would be happy to testify in court if asked.

The Europa Press agency reported on Wednesday that Ruz had accepted the petition from Barca member Jordi Cases, and potential “irregularities” in the transfer would now be officially investigated.

“Sufficient elements can be deduced to investigate... whether or not there are possible irregularities ... in the transfer of the Brazilian player ... with a relevant legal penalty,” the court documents reportedly say. According to EP, the investigation will also check for “a lack of correspondence between the initial and final agreements and financial obligations of these documents.”

Such a “lack of correspondence” could be of interest to tax authorities in both Spain and Brazil, as well as former third-party investors in the South American country who held a share of Neymar’s “playing rights” and now claim they are owed significant sums of money.

The judge reportedly says it is not “urgent” that Rosell appear in court to testify. The confidentiality commitment he has repeatedly mentioned is assumed to have been given to Neymar’s father, who was widely reportedly to have received 40 million of that total 57 million fee -- with El Mundo having claimed this week that he was also paid further commissions of over 11 million euros.

Long-time Barca member Cases submitted his petition after first asking the club for full disclosure about the transfer but being ignored. He has said that he would not have taken the initial case if the Blaugrana board had just been honest with him from the start.

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