Arguably one of the most anticipated transfers of the last five years, Neymar’s long awaited switch to Barcelona from Santos appeared to go without a snitch. That was until a Catalan pharmacist and Barcelona fan wanted to dig deep into the transfer and with it set the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons. What Jordi Cases did was simply ask for an explanation of Neymar’s transfer fee and in turn blew the lid off of one of footballs murkiest deals to date. Like many transfers in the current game, not all was revealed straight away to the general public and for good reason.
As reporting in World Soccer, Brazil’s brightest prospect for several years arrived at the Nou Camp for only €17.3million. Yes you read that right, the actual fee paid between the two clubs makes Neymar’s transfer look like daylight robbery. But the fee claimed by Barcelona at the time of signing was significantly more, a more realistic €57.3million so what is actually the truth? Well its somewhere in between as Barcelona did part with the larger amount but not all to Santos, with €40 million going to an agency called N&N, run by Neymar’s father Neymar da Silva Sr. The truth is that one of footballs biggest moves is not as it seems and at the heart of things is corruption and greed.
The winner in this transfer was not Santos but instead Neymar’s father who has pocketed a total of €51.9million through a combination of economic rights payments and marketing fees. Besides the €40 million already mentioned, Neymar Snr picked up €4million for his role in identifying further sponsorship opportunities for his son over the next five years. In his capacity as advisor to his son, combined with his close relationship with super agent Wagner Ribeiro plus Neymar’s strong advertising appeal, the need for Barcelona to pay Neymar Snr for this service seems unnecessary. In addition to this, Barcelona are forking over €7.9million for collaboration efforts with N&N where Neymar Snr is expected to identify three future prospects for Barcelona to potentially sign. Ironically all three players have been found and unsurprisingly play for Santos, giving the Brazilian club a realistic future revenue stream that may go some way to calm the choppy waters between the two clubs. Santos rightly feels somewhat aggrieved at the nature of the Neymar transfer and the final amount agreed. They feel that their prize asset should have departed for a much higher traditional transfer fee than what was given. Barcelona has thrown a series of friendlies there way in an effort to maintain a good working relationship with a club they see as a good source of young Brazilian talent.
With add-on’s including bonuses and signing on fees, the full value of Neymar’s move sits around €86.2million, with another €44million set aside for the players wages, making his move one of the most expensive in history. But for all the trouble and effort that went in to negotiating the deal, it could spell disaster for Barcelona. The Catalan club now faces the realization of a court led investigation which could lead to sanctions or heavy fines laid against them. President Sandro Roswell has already resigned in a damage limitation exercise but it’s unlikely to deter those now chasing Barca. New President Josep Maria Bartomeu is cooperating with the investigation but in truth there may be little he can do to repair the harm done by Rosell, who sanctioned the deal and its various components. FIFA and UEFA have yet to weigh in with their thoughts but UEFA president has been vocal in the past about his desire to make transfers more transparent and above board. His distaste for third party ownership and side deals is known widely but in a game that stretches beyond the boundaries of his control, he may have little power to influence the changes needed. Only one man, FIFA president Sepp Blatter can orchestrate such a change on a global scale, but with corruption and back payment rumours rife in the halls at FIFA, perhaps Blatter is choosing to ignore the situation that is developing so that he and his delegates can partake in a piece of the action. Unsubstantiated speculation only but given FIFA’s track record, it’s not outside the realms of possibilities.