Neymar in Barca for ‘loyalty bonus’ dispute

September 27 – Neymar is back in Barcelona but not to re-sign for the club.

Barca may be trying to prize the Brazilian away from Paris St Germain but first they have to settle a bitter legal battle.

Instead of leaving matters to his lawyers, Neymar reportedly turned up in person today at a Barcelona suburb for a hearing to rule on a festering contractual issue stretching back three years.

According to media reports, on signing a new contract at Barcelona in 2016, Neymar received €14 million of a €40 million loyalty bonus. When he left for PSG the following year, he didn’t receive the extra €26 million euros from Barcelona and this is the dispute that has now gone to court.

Barcelona’s case is that Neymar breached his contract and was not therefore entitled to the €26 million. The club is demanding he return the part of the bonus he already received as well as €8.5 million plus interest in compensation for breach of contract.

It promises to be significant test case but interestingly if Neymar had re-signed for Barcelona this summer, then both parties’ demands would have apparently been retracted. The case is being closely watched by the ever more vigilant Spanish tax authorities.

Neymar has faced a number of legal problems and a string of disciplinary issues since his arrival in Europe in 2013. In the last few months, he found himself facing a rape allegation, which was later dropped due to lack of evidence,  as well as an assault charge for hitting a fan after PSG’s shock defeat in April’s French Cup final. He then missed PSG’s first five games of this season as he tried to force through a move back to Barcelona.

That move foundered when Barcelona couldn’t reach PSG’s asking price, however Neymar’s father said at the Edinburgh Sports Conference earlier this month that the deal was still on the table and they will look to complete it either in the January or next summer transfer window.

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