Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has pointed the finger of blame at the Catalan club’s fierce rivals, Real Madrid, as he stood trial at a court case investigating Neymar’s transfer and alleged tax fraud linked with it.
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In an interview with Spanish television, Bartomeu insinuated that Real had a big part to play in the huge investigation currently taking place into the signing of Neymar from Brazilian club Santos in 2013 for $65 million.
The general feeling is that Real were feeling pretty miffed that Neymar chose Barca over them, so Bartomeu has insinuated that someone connected to their close rivals is closely linked to the investigation into the alleged $3.4 million defrauding of the Spanish government.
“We have done nothing wrong and we will keep saying the truth. The signing of Neymar took place using the most prestigious lawyers,” Bartomeu said. “Other clubs wanted to sign Neymar paying more money but they didn’t manage it and they didn’t like that. Someone now has overstepped the line. I’m not saying Madrid are behind this but Neymar’s father told me that there were two offers: Barca and Madrid. Madrid wanted to buy him and were ready to pay more for him.”
So Bartomeu is not saying Real were to blame… but that’s a pretty big hint he’s making there.
He also touched on political reasons for Barca being persecuted as the club’s strong links at the heart of Catalan means they are “paying a political price.”
Barca’s president will give evidence in court on Feb. 13, so we are likely to hear plenty more from him in the coming days and Barcelona’s transfer of Neymar two years ago continues to come under intense scrutiny.