PSG superstar, Neymar said on Tuesday October 18, he always signed documents his manager father told him to, as he took the stand at his trial in Spain over alleged irregularities in his transfer to Barcelona in 2013.
‘My father has always been in charge’ of contract negotiations, Neymar said when questioned by prosecutors who are seeking a two-year prison sentence for the Brazil Paris Saint-Germain forward for alleged corruption over his contract.
He also said he did not remember if he took part in the negotiations which led to an agreement sealed in 2011 with Barcelona over his transfer two years later to the Catalan side from Brazilian club Santos.
The footballer, who agreed to be questioned in court only by the state prosecutor and his defence lawyer was on the stand for less than 15 minutes.
He was asked whether he had participated in negotiations for a contract he signed in November 2011 while he was still at Brazilian boyhood club Santos where he agreed to play for Barcelona in 2013.
Neymar initially responded: ‘I don’t remember’ before adding in response to a second question from the state prosecutor about negotiations and contracts: ‘I didn’t participate. It was always my father who looked after that and was responsible for that. I sign what he tells me to.’
The footballer admitted: ‘I had offers from other clubs but my dream was always Barcelona. Real Madrid was one of the options but my heart was always for Barcelona.’
Neymar took the stand after Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was called as a witness and told the court the club offered 45 million Euros to sign the Brazilian International in 2011.
He insisted: ‘I don’t know Neymar, I’ve never spoken with him personally.
‘We were interested in signing Neymar about 10 years ago. Players go where they want. Neymar wanted to go to Barcelona and that’s why he went to Barcelona.’
Spanish prosecutors are seeking a two-year prison term for Neymar, a key member of the Brazil team that will be heading to the World Cup in Qatar next month, and the payment of a 10-million-euro ($9.7 million) fine.
The trial is the culmination of a years-long legal saga over Neymar’s 2013 move from Santos to Barcelona.
He then joined Qatar-owned PSG in a world record 222-million-euro transfer in 2017.
Neymar – one of the sport’s most recognisable figure – is one of nine defendants on trial on corruption-related charges, among them his parents and their N&N company, which manages his affairs.
The player spent two hours at the court on Monday on the opening day of the trial before he was excused by the judge after his lawyers argued he needed to rest after playing Sunday night.
Investigators began probing the transfer after a 2015 complaint filed by DIS, a Brazilian company that owned 40 percent of the player’s sporting rights when he was at Santos.
Barcelona said the transfer cost 57.1 million euros, but prosecutors believe it was at least 83 million euros. The club said it paid 40 million euros to N&N and 17.1 million to Santos, of which 6.8 million was given to DIS. But DIS alleges that Neymar, Barcelona and the Brazilian club colluded to mask the true cost of the deal.
Among the other defendants are two former Barca presidents, Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, and ex-Santos boss Odilio Rodrigues Filho.
DIS is seeking to recover 35 million euros.
The company’s lawyer Paulo Nasser said last week that Neymar had ‘with the complicity of his parents and FC Barcelona and its directors at the time, and Santos FC at a later stage, defrauded DIS of its legitimate financial interests.’
Neymar’s lawyers insist their client is innocent, saying the 40 million euros was a ‘legal signing bonus which is normal in the football transfer market’.
They have said Spanish authorities lack jurisdiction to hear the case since the transfer involved Brazilian nationals in Brazil.
The trial is due to end on October 31.
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