Free to Go All-In: Neymar and Barcelona Make Out of Court Deal

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Marcello Casal Jr
Credit: Marcello Casal Jr/Agência Brasil, Brazil and Croatia match at the FIFA World Cup 2014-06-12 (02), CC BY 3.0 BR

Brazilian superstar Neymar has settled his differences with former employers Barcelona in an out-of-court arrangement.

The 29-year-old left Catalonia in 2017, moving to Paris St Germain for a record fee of €222m ($262m). That is still a record transfer fee for any football player, but the move was acrimonious, with both parties claiming the other had ripped them off. Neymar demanded he be paid a renewal bonus the club hadn’t paid in full, and in turn, they sued him for breach of contract. A judge ruled in their favor, awarding them €8.5m ($10.03m) in damages plus interest, as well as demanding he pays back €14m ($16.51m) he had already received. He appealed the decision, but it now appears the situation has been resolved.

“Barcelona has ended out of court in amicable fashion the various labor and civil litigation cases that were open with the Brazilian player Neymar,” a club statement said. “As such, a transactional agreement between the club and the player has been signed to end the legal cases that were pending between the two parties.”

Neymar’s career has been dogged by controversy, beginning not long after his move from Santos to Barcelona in 2013. The club initially claimed the fee in that deal was €57m ($67.2m), but it later came out it was closer to €80m ($94.3m), with a company owned by the player’s father taking a large percentage of the final fee. Eventually, Barca was charged with tax fraud and voluntarily paid €13.6m ($16.04m) to settle the case. However, DIS Esporte should have earned 40% of Neymar’s economic rights when he was a Santos player, and they also filed a lawsuit claiming they were due additional money.

Neymar’s promising career has never hit the heights expected on the field, and he has a reputation for diving instead of for winning trophies. Whilst he’s only 29, there are precious few years left of his playing career for him to achieve the fame enjoyed by Messi and Ronaldo, and he’s already planning for life after he hangs up his boots. He recently claimed he’s going to become a professional poker player when he retires, saying: “It’s true I plan to turn pro. I feel very comfortable playing poker, and think I can play in major tournaments after my football career is over.” If he does, one wonders if the controversy will continue to dog him, perhaps through the use of poker angle shoots, comparable to diving in football. “There are similarities between football and poker, in the ways how you read your game and your opponent, and choose when to attack,” he added but chose to omit the moments when he opts to dive or potentially hide a few chips behind a stack.

For now, the winger is still playing football, with the French Ligue 1 due to kick off in early August. This season, his side will be facing divisional newcomers Clermont Foot early on and hoping to regain the title they lost to Lille last season. At least Neymar can now do so without the specter of a Barcelona court date hanging over him, which means he might finally be able to go all-in on his playing career.

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