In Johannesburg, South Africa’s Soccer City stadium, Neymar helped himself to a hat-trick as Brazil beat host South Africa 5-0. Those three goals took the 22-year-old Brazilian’s total tally for his country to 30.
Neymar has taken 47 games (0.64 goals/game) to reach this mark, and again it’s worth repeating he’s only 22. Lionel Messi reached 30 goals for his beloved Argentina at 25 years old and after 74 Albiceleste caps (0.41 goals/game). Another goal machine, Cristiano Ronaldo, hit his 30th goal for Portugal at 26, on his 86th appearance (0.35 goals/game).
Not too bad in my opinion.
Week to week league games, midweek Europe or the cup, business end of the season; yeah, why not whack in an international day. Anyway, 14 of the FC Barcelona senior squad have joined their national sides for games tomorrow, Wednesday, March 5th.
Víctor Valdés, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernández, Cesc Fàbregas and Pedro Rodríguez thankfully only need to travel a few hundred kilometers to Madrid where Spain face Italy. Sergi Roberto is with the under-21s taking on Germany. Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano are in Bucharest, Romania to take on said national side. Alexis Sánchez is in Stuttgart where Chile face Germany, Alex Song is with Cameroon to face Portugal and finally Brazilian buds Dani Alves and Neymar travel to South Africa.
The latest news is that Xavi and Fàbregas haven’t trained with the squad and both seem unlikely to feature tomorrow.
Andres Iniesta spoke publicly to defend his under-fire coach, Gerardo Martino, and claims that the team are 100 per cent with their coach. “The manager trusts the team to win and he always wants the best for his team, therefore, the players have no doubts regarding the manager. On the contrary, we are with him to death.” More from the midfielder after the jump.
NEY LOOKS ON THE POSITIVE SIDE
Neymar: “At least this week they’ll be talking more about the sporting crisis…”
“…instead of my dad.”
Cartoon by Caye
“We feel at ease. The contracts with Neymar and Santos are completely legal. We consulted externally with experts in finance and tax and we can say the club is up to date with payments to the Spanish Treasury. Barcelona is an exemplary club.” Once again, strong and assured words from club president Josep Maria Bartomeu. Following yesterday’s legal developments, Bartomeu sat with Teledeporte’s Estudio Estadio to discuss the topical issues. Fully translated interview below.
Surely only a complete coincidence, the day following global headlines of FC Barcelona beating Manchester City, a Spanish prosecutor for the Spanish Tax Authority in Madrid announced that they have submitted a petition to judge Pablo Ruz that FC Barcelona as an entity must be named as a suspect of fraud. This differs from the original, now infamous, petition by Jordi Cases, which only named former club president Sandro Rosell. Just an hour ago, this petition was accepted. The details after the jump.
Earlier in the week, Neymar’s former employers Santos brought an injunction to the Brazilian courts requesting that FC Barcelona handover all documents relating to Neymar’s summer move. The Brazilian club released the following official statement on Tuesday:
“Santos FC, after exhausting all amicable attempts at obtaining the contracts and documents signed between NN Consultoria Esportiva and Neymar Sports Marketing with FC Barcelona regarding the transfer of the idol Neymar to the Catalan club, attempts which were unfortunately unsuccessful, submitted late on Monday an injunction against the aforementioned companies. The lawsuit seeks to obtain the documents for examination, so the club can become aware of the reasons that justify the receipt of such amounts by these companies, without the participation of Santos FC or the other holders of the economic rights of the athlete Neymar Jr.”
Before I continue with the story, I would like to make it clear once again that Neymar was in the final year of his contract, and had Barça honored the original 2011 pre-agreement, Neymar would have been signed as a free-agent and therefore Santos would have received precisely nothing.
And the legal fun and games (a euphemism) continue for FC Barcelona. On Tuesday, the founder and secretary general of Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), Miguel Bernard, presented his own legal petition with regards to the Neymar transfer. This time however the complaint not only includes Sandro Rosell, like Jordi Cases’, but also new club president Josep María Bartomeu, vice-president Javier Faus and also Mr. Neymar Senior.
Bernard had originally wanted to unite with Cases on his complaint, to which Spanish High Court judge Pablo Ruz said was not possible. So Bernard submitted his own on the same conditions except as mentioned above extended to all major parties in the deal, explaining that “the Neymar [deal] is of alleged corruption and fraud that has caused public alarm.” Bernard also indicated that his organization may submit a complaint against Real Madrid with regards to the Gareth Bale move, which has been rumored to have been funded by Bankia, one of the Spanish banks bailed out by the European Union. A Belgium MEP requested the European Commission to investigate this in September 2013.
The new year can’t have been easy for Neymar. The ins and outs of his move from Santos have been discussed for months and eventually disclosed, all that led to Sandro Rosell’s resignation, he picked up an injury and most recently the young Brazilian partook in a rant against fake friends and those smearing his family’s name.
But today Neymar Jr turns 22 years old and hopefully things are looking up. The political noise is at the lowest it’s been for some time and the Brazilian superstar is recovering well from his injury, already back in training with the ball. FC Barcelona need Neymar back on the pitch with the business end of the season well underway.
What do Bruce Willis, George Clooney, Antonio Banderas, David Beckham, and Neymar have in common? As of last week, FC Barcelona’s Brazilian superstar Neymar, the world’s most marketable athelete, became Police sunglasses latest brand ambassador.
“We are very proud of this new and joyous collaboration with Neymar Jr. He encapsulates the Police DNA like nobody else; a young, passionate and very talented star,” said Ennio De Rigo, president of the De Rigo Group, the holding company of Police. Neymar will share the role with female Mexican model Daniela de Jesús.
After winning the first leg against Levante 4-1 away in the Copa del Rey, Barça now faces the same team for the third time in ten days, this time at Camp Nou. Gerardo’ Tata’ Martino spoke in a press conference where he gave his thoughts regarding the events that have transpired this past week and its effect on the team. He also spoke about Neymar’s presence in the teams, Lionel Messi’s recent lack of goals, and Ibrahim Afellay’s return, all after the jump.
Josep Bartomeu, the new president of FC Barcelona, was a guest this morning on the radio show El matí de Catalunya Radio. He explained, “[Barcelona doesn't] have an agreement with a goalkeeper to replace Víctor Valdés yet but we’re close.” He also talked about renewing Lionel Messi’s contract and giving him a pay rise saying that, “The negotiations will be as discreet as possible.” Read more after the jump.
Having assumed the mantle of FC Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu has had a busy week. And based on new stories from yesterday and today, the busy weeks are only beginning. Read on for Bartomeu speaking on a wide range of interesting topics (Rosell, Messi, Neymar, Pep, Cruyff, Madrid) before the Málaga match and on radio the following morning.
The bigger they are the harder they fall. The man voted president in June 2010 by a club record majority (61.35%) voluntarily vacated FC Barcelona’s highest administrative position yesterday evening. Barely 24 hours after Madrid High Court judge Pablo Ruz approved the legal petition of club member Jordi Cases into the investigation of “possible criminal misappropriation in the form of distracción*,” the man who Monday once again reaffirmed, “Neymar cost 57 million, end of story,” yesterday ended his own FC Barcelona story. Neymar was the nail in the coffin, but in reality, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
SEVEN MONTHS LATER
Cartoon by Caye
Shortly before 21:00 Barcelona time, Sandro Rosell faced a frenzied press and, as has been expected all day, “irrevocably” resigned as president of FC Barcelona.
Defiant till the end, Rosell once again stated that criticism from the national courts around the Neymar deal have been “unfair” and that he “insists everything with Neymar was correct.”
Rosell specifically cited that he wanted to distance himself from the club so that accusations do not poison it, and that over the years “he and his family suffered attacks” from the public and now questions whether “it is worth being president if my family is under threat.” No matter what, threats of violence and death against Mr. Rosell and his family are absolutely unacceptable.
Under the laws of FC Barcelona’s statutes, a vice-president takes charge in this situation and at this evening’s board meeting it was unanimously decided that Josep Maria Bartomeu ascend to the presidency until the end of their mandate in June 2016.
Before ending the press conference, new president Bartomeu stated firmly that the club will defend itself against accusations and allegations. Strap in everyone, this is only the beginning.
Stay tuned to totalBarça for much more on today’s colossal event.
El Periodico reported this afternoon (original can be found here) that Spanish High Court judge Pablo Ruz has decided to admit the case lodged against Sandro Rosell by FC Barcelona member Jordi Cases on January 18th regarding Neymar’s signing. The reason to do so is, according the Catalan newspaper, an alleged “wrongful appropriation” (“apropiación indebida”) in a variant called “distraction,” a criminal offense in Spain. Judge Ruz explained, in a document released today, that “there are enough elements to investigate those facts,” just as the prosecution demanded, so there could be found any “irregularities that are relevant from a criminal/law perspective.”
When Neymar joined FC Barcelona, almost everyone was happy about the signing of the next Pelé, as some enthusiastic journalists dared to name him. His quality was unquestioned, yet some concerns arose when Santos certified that the transfer amount was only 17 million euros.
Neymar’s rights were owned by Santos, DIS and Teisa, two sport management companies. The transfer, as Radio Globo revealed, was completed for 17 million euros, 55% of which were for Santos FC and the rest, for DIS and Teisa, which hold 45% of Neymar’s professional rights. FC Barcelona, on the other hand, has always maintained that the total amount was 57 million euros. So, doubt was in the air: What were the other 40 million paid for?
Martino took the game rather seriously pre-match and that was echoed in his post-match comments. “The game worried me but we were focused. Besides one chance in the first half, we didn’t give Getafe a chance to qualify. It was decided once Leo [Messi] scored.”
More after the jump on Neymar, Messi, Sergi Roberto and a few others.
Neymar is only 21 but his marketing exploits are well documented. With 10 different official sponsors, a Brazilian icon and growing figure in Barcelona, over the past three years the young star has undertaken 183 separate photo shoots. That works out to one every six days, including one yesterday with Mundo Deportivo (MD) at 8:30 in the evening. This is what it means to be a global superstar and while it must become tiresome, his bank balance certainly isn’t complaining.
FC Barcelona released two statements in the last days concerning the ongoing legal proceedings regarding the signing of Neymar Jr. For those who have not been following the case, Jordi Cases, a club socio and leader of Grup d´Opinió Barça (or GO Barça) - the same group that attempted to impeach club president Sandro Rosell several months ago – lodged a case against Barcelona in December regarding the murky details of Neymar’s transfer fee. A Spanish judge ordered Barcelona to disclose documents relating to the deal, and the club complied. This past Thursday, it was revealed that the judge found no irregularities or wrongdoing in the signing. However, Jordi Cases is apparently pursuing the case further, and the club has responded strongly. More details below.
The reality is Cristiano Ronaldo never extended similar courtesy the other way around, something that should not go unnoticed. In my opinion, Ronaldo deserved to take the honor this year, and while his tears of genuine relief and elation were an endearing human moment, he never truly congratulated Messi any of those other years. Messi in fact smiled when Ronaldo’s name was called, not like in 2010 and 2012 when his counterpart could barely hide his contempt and 2011 he didn’t even bother to pitch.
“I was out a lot of the year, but Cristiano had a great year and he deserves it. All three of us had a good year. It would have been fine whoever won.”
Messi continued by saying, “You have to congratulate Cristiano, I have nothing to complain about. I wasn’t able to win, but just being here is a prize in itself.”
“It’s normal Ronaldo cried, it’s very emotional having your boy on stage with you.”
Not everyone in the Barça family was as humble and gracious as Leo, check out other reactions after the jump.
Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino was satisfied with FC Barcelona’s performance against Atlético Madrid after the game ended in a goalless yet intense draw. The two teams fought incredibly hard in terms of defense and attack, but both defenses prevailed in the end. Prior to the game, Atlético had obtained maximum points from their home games; Barça are the first to keep them at bay at the Vicente Calderón. Continue reading for more from Tata’s conference.