Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar told a court on Tuesday he ‘did not participate in negotiations’ over his transfer to Barcelona from Santos in 2013.
The 30-year-old, alongside his parents, former Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, former Santos president Odilio Rodrigues, and representatives of both clubs, are on trial on fraud and corruption charges over the transfer, which they deny.
Santos are understood to have received around £79.2m for the transfer of Neymar to Barcelona, but Brazilian investment group DIS – who owned 40% of Neymar’s economic rights while he was at Santos – claim it lost out on its rightful cut as the transfer was undervalued.
Paulo Nasser, a lawyer representing the firm, claimed last week that Neymar “betrayed” their trust, and the investment group want the Brazil international to receive a five-year jail sentence.
Meanwhile, Spanish prosecutors are seeking a two-year jail ruling and a fine of €10m (£8.7m) for Neymar, as well as a five-year jail term for Rosell if found guilty.
Rosell served as Barcelona president between 2010 and 2014 and was replaced by Bartomeu, who served until October 2020, with Joan Laporta then appointed as his successor.
Speaking to the court in Barcelona in his first testimony of his trial, Neymar said: “I didn’t participate in the negotiations. My father always took care of it and always will. I sign everything he tells me to sign.
“Playing for Barcelona was always my dream, a childhood dream.”
Neymar’s father, Neymar da Silva Santos, added: “Our intention was to prepare a career plan for him in Europe, in which we had in place already established, could learn the language, etc. And knowing his dream to play for Barcelona, we signed that priority agreement with them.”
Defence lawyer Maria Masso said earlier that the forward has not committed any crime and that the Spanish courts have no authority to prosecute the Neymar family as the alleged offences took place in Brazil, where they are not punishable by law.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez appeared as a witness via videolink and told the court the Spanish giants had made offers of €45m in 2011 and €36m in 2013 to sign Neymar from Santos, but the player chose to join Barcelona instead.
As quoted by Tribal Football, Perez said: “I don’t know Neymar, I’ve never spoken to him on a personal level. We were interested in signing Neymar about 10 years ago. In 2011, Real Madrid made Santos an offer for Neymar. I believe it was €45m. It’s written in the summary.
“Players go where they want to go. I think Neymar wanted to go to Barcelona and that’s why he went to Barcelona. The offer in 2011 was €45m, not €60m.
“I don’t know or remember if DIS had any rights to Neymar. I remember they sent us a letter. I don’t remember meeting or having conversations with Juan Figer. I don’t remember anything at all. We have provided all documentation to the abstract. I was not involved in anything. I guess we didn’t respond to the DIS letter because we had nothing to say.
“We did not play a very active role in this negotiation. I have been at Real Madrid for 18 years and all the offers we have made to players have been transparent. All these questions at Real Madrid are dealt with by the sports management. I don’t know anything about what you’re telling me.”
Due to the current court hearing, Neymar is believed to be a doubt for PSG’s Ligue 1 fixture away against Ajaccio on Friday night.