Football: Neymar testifies in court over Barca transfer case

Barcelona's Neymar leaves the High Court after testifying before a judge in Madrid, Spain, on Feb 2, 2016.
Barcelona's Neymar leaves the High Court after testifying before a judge in Madrid, Spain, on Feb 2, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - Barcelona star Neymar testified in Spain's National Court on Tuesday (Feb 3) in the murky case of the multi-million-euro deal which brought the Brazilian to the Catalan giants from Santos in 2013.

Sporting jeans and sunglasses, he arrived at the Madrid court late afternoon accompanied by his father who was also called to give evidence to a judge over a fraud and corruption complaint by Brazilian investment fund DIS.

DIS held 40 per cent of the 23-year-old's sporting rights when he played at Santos and has claimed it was cheated of its real share of the transfer due to parallel contracts that Barcelona and Santos allegedly used to hide the total cost.

The transfer deal was originally valued at 57.1 million euros (S$89 million) by Barca, 40 million of which was paid to the N&N company owned by the player's father with Santos - where Neymar started his career - receiving 17.1 million.

However, Spanish judicial authorities have estimated the number of simultaneous deals in the transfer amounted to at least 83.3 million - with the difference allegedly going to Neymar and his family, and Santos.

Appearing relaxed, the Brazilian striker signed an autograph in front of a group of photographers before giving the thumbs-up and entering court, where he stayed an hour-and-a-half.

He made no comment when he left, but took a multitude of selfies with young supporters.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell were also called to give evidence on Monday, but they refused to testify, insisting instead on the version of events they had given for a previous hearing.

Later that day, a representative of Santos - which also had to testify - told the judge they had actually felt cheated by Neymar and his father after details of the football star's transfer to Barcelona emerged.

Fatima Cristina Bonassa said the footballer was an adult at the time of transfer and knew what he was signing.

Bonassa pointed out that Brazilian law allows players to choose their transfer club, and that Neymar had insisted on going to the Spanish side.

It was only after learning the amount that the club had actually paid for the striker that Santos understood his insistence of signing for the Catalan giants, she added.

After hearing all testimonies, the judge will decide whether the case will progress and charges be filed.

Neymar is also embroiled in other cases after a Brazilian court froze $47 million in assets belonging to the footballer over tax evasion allegations between 2011 and 2013.

He must also pay a $112,000 fine for tax fraud in 2007 and 2008.

However Barcelona coach Luis Enrique insisted that Neymar's judicial woes were having no impact on his performance.

"From zero to one million, it affects him at 0.000001 percent," he told a press conference before the club's King's Cup semi-final clash against Valencia on Wednesday.

"There is no comment to make, it has nothing to do with football, this is an issue that will be resolved as it should be.

"Neymar is perfect," he added.