Barcelona have stated that they paid €57m ($77m) to sign Neymar from Brazilian side Santos last summer, but, if reports are correct, the club actually spent €95m ($129m) to sign the forward – making him the most expensive player in the world.
According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, who allegedly got a look at leaked court documents, Barca paid €38m more than previously stated for the 21 year old wonderkid, with payments listed as going “to scout young talent at Santos” and “to help children in the favelas of Sao Paulo” in fact being made directly to Neymar’s father. By reporting these payments as going to sources other than the Neymar family, Barcelona are saving on their taxes, avoiding paying more on the transfer fee and wages.
The case is currently in trial, with the club asserting its innocence. And it may ultimately be that the allegations remain unproven, as it would be difficult to demonstrate where, exactly, the payments have gone. But should they be true, Neymar could very well be top in the world – in terms of cost, anyway. Cristiano Ronaldo cost Real Madrid €94m, more than the cost of Gareth Bale, widely reported as being €100m, but in actuality falling closer to €91m.
Of possibly greater interest, however, is the fact that, should some of these payments be found to be packaged as part of Neymar’s wages, the youngster may be earning more than teammate Lionel Messi. The Argentine makes €11m ($14.8m) per year, plus bonuses. But if some of the payments allegedly going elsewhere are interpreted by the court as being used to disguise extra wages for Neymar, that could mean the Brazilian is earning around €15m ($20.5m) annually.
It’s highly unlikely that this case will prove irregularities in Barcelona’s accounting. Still, it’s intriguing to think of the young Brazilian being the most valued player in the world – and of him earning more than megastar Messi.
Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.
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Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City
Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.
Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth
The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.
But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.
Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace
Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a
Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland
Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.
One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.
Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.
The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.
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That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.
“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”
A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?
Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.
Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.
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A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.
Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.
Click play on the video above to watch it.
There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.
So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.
[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]
On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.
That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.
Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.