WITH Lionel Messi appearing before a Spanish court to face allegations of tax evasion, prosecutors have turned their ire towards his Barcelona partner Neymar, requesting that the Brazilian superstar be charged on two counts of fraud and corruption.
Like the Messi trial, should Neymar be formally hauled before the courts, it is unlikely that the player himself would face any serious repercussions other than a nettlesome fine, but further investigation would shed light on the murky underworld of international transfers.
A Brazilian investment fund, DIS, held 40 per cent of Neymar’s sporting rights and alleges that it was told that Barcelona paid just €17.1 million to lure the player from Santos in 2013, receiving their percentage of that figure.
Subsequent investigations have confirmed what every football supporter already knew, that the real sum was vastly higher, and it transpired that the deal was in fact worth €83.3 million, leaving DIS significantly out of pocket.
The 24-year-old, who boasts 70 caps for his country, would be joined in the docks by his father who, like Messi’s father, acts as his agent, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, and two club directors if prosecutors have their way.
Neymar and Barcelona also face related tax fraud charges, while the striker has seen €42 million in assets frozen by a Brazilian court.
“My father is doing everything to ensure that I can just focus on playing football. He handles the books. But in the moment when you see someone you love suffering, it starts to hurt,” the player said, adding that he is “sick and tired” of the accusations.