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Barcelona to pay €5.5 million fine over Neymar transfer

Barcelona on Monday accepted to pay a €5.5-million ($6.2 million) fine over Neymar's contested 2013 transfer in a deal with prosecutors that sees the club avoid trial on tax evasion charges.

Barcelona to pay €5.5 million fine over Neymar transfer
Photo: AFP

“It was better to accept this agreement than continue on with the uncertainty that has dragged on for a long time over the Neymar case,” Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu told reporters, in reference to the transfer deal that authorities believe was undervalued, allowing the club to pay lower taxes in Spain.

“We have had to accept paying a €5.5 million fine due to a mistake in the 2011 and 2013 tax planning in the signing of Neymar,” added Bartomeu.

The agreement frees up Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell from possible criminal proceedings that could have seen them jailed.

Neymar's arrival in 2013 has been a huge success for Barça on the pitch but a judicial nightmare off it.

The 24-year-old is being investigated in Brazil and Spain over his shady transfer from Brazilians Santos to Barça.

Catalans Barcelona originally published the transfer figure as €57.1 million, with €40 million of that given to the player's family.

But Spanish authorities believe the true transfer figure was at least €83 million.

Brazilian investment fund DIS, which held 40 percent of Neymar's sporting rights when he played at Santos, claims it was cheated out of its real share of the transfer due to parallel contracts that Barcelona and Santos allegedly used to hide the true cost.

Santos – where Neymar started his career – received €17.1 million, €6.8 million of which went to DIS.

But Spanish judicial authorities believe another €26 million from the parallel contracts were shared between Neymar, his family and Santos, with DIS and the taxman missing out on their cuts.

Barcelona had already made a voluntary €13.5 million tax payment after being indicted for alleged tax fraud.

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FOOTBALL

Barça seek Super Cup tonic to Neymar hangover

Barcelona host rivals Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday badly in need of a morale-boosting win following the world record sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain.

Barça seek Super Cup tonic to Neymar hangover
Barcelona forwards Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Photo: AFP

Despite banking 222 million euros for the Brazilian, Barça's scattergun approach to finding a replacement has so far been unsuccessful with bids for Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele of Borussia Dortmund so far rebuffed.

New Barça coach Ernesto Valverde must therefore try to down the European and Spanish champions with a weaker squad than the one which missed out to Real for the La Liga title last season.

However, Barça did manage to beat Madrid without the then-suspended Neymar the last time the sides met in competitive action back in April as Lionel Messi won an incredible encounter 3-2 with the last kick of the game.

The Catalans also edged last month's Miami friendly between the two in Neymar's last game for Barça 3-2.

Valverde's men completed a perfect pre-season on the field with a fourth straight win by sweeping aside Chapecoense 5-0 on Monday in a match to raise funds for the stricken Brazilian club who lost 19 players and 24 club officials in a plane crash last year.

“We've had a good pre-season and we are coming into the game in good condition,” said Valverde.

“But on Sunday the real thing starts, with a competitive game and a title at stake against our biggest rivals.”

Gerard Deulofeu was handed Neymar's role alongside Messi and Luis Suarez up front against Chapecoense on his return to the club after spells at Everton and AC Milan.

And the Spanish international took his chance with a goal and two assists in just 45 minutes on the field.

“It is always a pleasure to play here and even more so with these players,” said Deulofeu.

Valverde is likely to stick with Deulofeu, but the former Athletic Bilbao coach could also strengthen Barça's midfield by sacrificing a forward to add Sergi Roberto to the normal midfield three of Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta.

Despite failing to win any of their pre-season games, Madrid started the new campaign as they ended last season with another trophy as Zinedine Zidane's men proved too strong for Manchester United to win the UEFA Super Cup 2-1 on Tuesday.

Casemiro and Isco were on target as Madrid's midfield dazzled in Skopje, Macedonia, but Zidane will be forced into at least one change from the side that started in midweek as Luka Modric is suspended.

Should Zidane wish to maintain the 4-4-2 system he has utilised to huge success in 2017, Mateo Kovacic is the favourite to replace his Croatian teammate in midfield.

However, Modric's absence increases Cristiano Ronaldo's chances of returning to the Madrid starting XI after making just a brief cameo appearance as a substitute against his former club in Macedonia.

Ronaldo only returned to training with his teammates last weekend on their return from a tour of the USA having been given an extended break following Portugal's participation in the Confederations Cup and a court appearance in Madrid over allegations of tax evasion.

READ ALSO: Annoyed Barça won't pay Neymar bonus