Neymar backing Brazil challenger Neves in election run-off

+ Sao Paulo (AFP) / Fecha: 10.24.2014, 07:44 hs / Tags: Neymar, fbl, Brazil, vote

Brazilian football idol Neymar during the Champions League match against Ajax Amsterdam in Barcelona on October 21, 2014

Brazilian football idol Neymar voiced support for presidential challenger Aecio Neves, just three days before this weekend's election run-off.

Neymar, the hugely popular captain of Brazil's national team, said Thursday that he was backing Neves over leftist incumbent Dilma Rousseff because he believed the center-right challenger was the best option for Brazil.

"I will support the candidate (Neves) because I identify with his proposals for Brazil," the 22-year-old multi-millionaire Barcelona star said in a video message.

He said he had decided to go public with his support for Neves after "much discussion and thought" with his family.

The striker said irrespective of his declaration for Neves, he would support whoever won Sunday's vote.

"Be sure that whatever the results are on Sunday, I will support my country and my president elected by the people," Neymar said.

Two polls on Thursday pointed to a victory for Rousseff in Sunday's vote, with the Brazilian president opening up a potentially decisive gap over Neves in a runoff which had previously been too close to call.

Polling firm Datafolha found Rousseff had 53 percent of the vote against 47 percent for Neves heading into the second round.

Ibope, another leading pollster, gave the incumbent 54 percent and the challenger 46 percent.

In both cases, the gap between the candidates was larger than the two-percentage-point margin of error.

Neymar relishing partnership with Messi, Suarez

+ Madrid (AFP) / Fecha: 10.20.2014, 14:58 hs / Actualizado: 10.20.2014, 16:48 hs / Tags: Eur, C1, ESP, NED, Barcelona, Ajax, Neymar, Enrique

Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar gives a press conference in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona, on October 20, 2014

Barcelona forward Neymar is looking forward to welcoming Luis Suarez into his and Lionel Messi's star-studded strike partnership when the Uruguayan returns from a four-month ban this weekend.

Suarez looks set to make his debut for the Catalans on the biggest stage of all as Barca face Real Madrid for the first time this season at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Neymar and Messi have already combined for 17 goals in 10 games so far this season and the Brazilian is convinced last season's Premier League Player of the Year will only add to their firepower.

"For me Messi is the best player in the world and I am happy to be able to play alongside him," said the 22-year-old.

"But Luis Suarez is among the best too and I am sure he will bring many good things to our team."

Before concentrating on the Clasico, Barca welcome Ajax to the Camp Nou on Tuesday in a crucial Champions League clash following the Catalans defeat away to Paris Saint-Germain in their last European outing.

"It will be a very difficult and a very important match. We always play to win but I believe Ajax to be a great team both in defence and in attack. We will have to work hard to win," added Neymar.

"We need to think about doing everything possible to beat Ajax and afterwards we can begin to think about Madrid. Ajax are a great team and we are all concentrating on this game."

- important match -

Barca boss Luis Enrique also stressed the importance of not looking ahead to the clash at the Bernabeu, but played down the idea that this could be a vital week in his side's season.

"We are used to playing every three or four days and the only important game and one in our minds right now is Ajax. The players are aware of how important this match is," he said.

"I don't have doubts about my team, nor about the game at the Bernabeu independent of the result against Ajax.

"The sensations at the moment are very good. We have only drawn one game in the league, only lost one in the Champions League, which we didn't deserve to lose.

"It is not a key week. The key weeks arrive in April and May. It is an interesting week rather than a key one."

Enrique is though expected to rotate his side for the visit of the Dutch champions, who have only taken two points from their opening two games in Group F.

Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta are all expected to return after being rested in the 3-0 win over Eibar on Saturday.

And Marc-Andre ter Stegen could also make his third appearance for the club should Enrique continue his policy of using the German in the Champions League despite Claudio Bravo's run of eight clean sheets in La Liga.

Real offered 150 mln for Neymar, father tells court

+ Madrid (AFP) / Fecha: 10.01.2014, 17:59 hs / Tags: ESP, fraud, Barcelona, Neymar, court

Neymar Da Silva Santos, father of Barcelona's player Neymar, gives the thumbs up as he arrives at the Spanish National Court in Madrid on October 1, 2014

Neymar's father and agent told a Spanish court investigating alleged tax fraud in his son's signing by Barcelona that the player rejected a much higher offer from Real Madrid of 150 million euros ($190 million).

Barcelona initially said the signing of the 22-year-old player from Brazilian side Santos in May 2012 cost them 57.1 million euros.

But after questions were raised about the deal by a Barcelona club member, the club in January revealed the deal was worth 86.2 million euros when including the player's signing bonus, commission, marketing deals and other agreements.

The club member, Jordi Cases, accused former Barcelona president Sandro Rossell of misappropriation for not declaring publicly that 40 million euros of the initial figure quoted by Barcelona was paid to N&N, a company controlled by Neymar's parents.

As a result Barcelona were indicted in February for tax fraud.

During questioning at Madrid's National Court on Wednesday, the player's father, Neymar Da Silva Santos Sr, said Real offered 150 million euros for his son but the player preferred Barcelona's offer because the Catalan side had a greater "international projection", a court source said.

He also told the court that his son's contracts with Barcelona were all legal, the source added.

Whilst giving testimony in July, Rosell told the court that all contracts related to Neymar's signing "were done perfectly" and respected the law.

Rossell stepped down in January over the affair.

In April, the Spanish league said it believed there was nothing irregular about the Neymar signing.

Earlier this year Barcelona made a voluntary tax payment of 13.5 million euros to normalise the situation and avoid the club's name being further tarnished.

Neymar is back to full fitness after missing the World Cup semi-final and third-place playoff in his home country with a serious back injury picked up in the quarter-final victory over Colombia.

He made an excellent start to the 2014-15 season with the Catalan side, scoring six goals in five La Liga appearances this season.

Charges against Barcelona president dropped in Neymar affair

+ Madrid (AFP) / Fecha: 09.26.2014, 17:59 hs / Tags: ESP, Liga, BRA, justice, Barcelona, Neymar, fraud

Barcelona's football club president Josep Maria Bartomeu holds a press conference in Barcelona on April 3, 2014 at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona

Prosecutors in Spain have dropped charges against Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu over alleged tax irregularities concerning the signing of Brazil star Neymar, according to a judgement made public on Friday.

The magistrate investigating the case in Madrid agreed with the decision of the public prosecutor to drop charges against Bartomeu and the club's vice-president Javier Faus, who looks after the club's finances.

Barcelona initially said that the signing of Neymar had cost them 57.1 million euros ($72.5m, £44.6m).

However, one of Barcelona's own members, or 'socios', Jordi Cases, accused the club's former president Sandro Rosell of misappropriation for not declaring publicly that 40 million of the figure quoted by Barca was paid to N&N, a company controlled by Neymar's parents.

Judge Pablo Ruz widened his investigation earlier this year when he decided that there was "sufficient evidence to investigate a possible crime against the public treasury".

Barcelona and Rosell, who stepped down in January, were accused of irregularities in the deal, which was worth a total figure of just over 86 million euros.

But on Friday the judge concluded that there was no reason to pursue charges against Bartomeu and Faus, former right-hand men of Rosell under the previous presidency and who signed certain incriminating documents.

Ruz ruled there was not enough evidence to suggest that the two had "actively participated in the facts under investigation".

Prosecutor Jose Perals said that, in the case of the alleged tax crimes, responsibility falls to the club as a whole and Rosell, as he was president at the time.

The Barcelona board have been rattled for several months by the investigation into the signing of Neymar in the spring of 2013 and the father of the Brazilian star is still due to appear as a witness on October 1 as part of the case.

Bartomeu tried to calm the controversy after taking over as president by disclosing the exact figures of the transfer, which was valued at 86.2 million euros, and paying 13.5 million euros to the public purse.

Rosell, who gave evidence for several hours on July 22, insisted before the judge that the transfer was carried out legally, affirming that "the contracts were perfectly drawn up".

Who needs PlayStation when you have Messi, says Barca coach

+ Madrid (AFP) / Fecha: 09.14.2014, 01:23 hs / Tags: ESP, Liga, Barcelona, Enrique, Messi, Neymar

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (L) fights for the ball with Athletic Bilbao's Mikel Balenziaga (R) during their Spanish La Liga match, at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, on September 13, 2014

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique hailed four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi as capable of things impossible even on computer game PlayStation after he set up Neymar twice in his side's 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Messi has looked back to his best after a disappointing end to last season, scoring twice and providing three assists as Barca have propelled themselves to the top of La Liga with three wins from their opening three games.

"It is evident that he is best in the world in any attacking aspect," he said.

"This version of Messi helps us a lot because he is a game changer. He does things in training that you can't imagine, things I haven't even seen on the PlayStation.

"We are used to it now but it is a joy and a privilege to have the best player in the world in your team without a doubt."

And despite netting his first two goals of the season, Neymar was also quick to praise the part played by Messi in both goals.

"Messi is the best in the world. He is a star and I am improving with him," the Brazilian told Canal Plus.

"I am very happy with the game today. It went perfectly with the two goals."

Neymar had been left out of the starting line-up after his exertions in captaining his country for the first time in wins over Colombia and Ecuador in the past week, but made the difference in a tight contest when he slotted home from Messi's through ball 11 minutes from time.

And the two combined once more five minutes later as this time Messi breezed past three Athletic defenders before cutting the ball back for Neymar to side-foot home.

It is not just going forward that the Catalans have impressed at the start of Enrique's reign as they have also started the league season with three consecutive clean sheets for the first time in 20 years.

"I think against a team like Athletic it highlighted how little we restricted them to," added Enrique.

"That means that we have pressed high and defended well. To do that you have to be solid and know what you are doing.

"It seems that we aren't quite being clinical enough, but we have players like Neymar and Sandro who have come off the bench fresh in the last two games and have the ability to score goals."

Barca welcome back Neymar, lose Iniesta

+ Madrid (AFP) / Fecha: 08.30.2014, 12:45 hs / Tags: ESP, Liga, Barcelona, Neymar, Iniesta

Barcelona forward Neymar (L) pictured just before scoring past Leon's goalkeeper William Yarbrough during the 49th Joan Gamper Trophy match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on August 18, 2014

Brazilian star Neymar will make his first appearance of the season when Barcelona travel to face Villarreal on Sunday, but the Catalans will have to do without the injured Andres Iniesta.

Neymar missed Barca's opening day 3-0 over Elche last weekend due to a sprained ankle, having only just recovered from the broken vertebra in his back which prematurely ended his World Cup.

Iniesta, though, has been sidelined by a knee injury.

"He had a problem in his knee that was getting worse and hasn't allowed him to play," said Barca boss Luis Enrique on Saturday.

"Neymar is in the squad because he is ready to play. Winning a place in the team is difficult, but the key for the season is not just to have 11 players, but that we win with everyone."

The performance of 18-year-old Munir El Haddadi on debut against Elche may mean Nemyar will start only from the bench at El Madrigal.

Munir's fine week was rounded off by a first call-up to the Spanish under-21 squad on Friday, but Enrique insists he hasn't made any plans to protect his protégé during his rapid rise to prominence.

"We haven't done any special work to protect him. He ought to attack everything at the moment calmly. What he is doing at the moment other players will do throughout the course of the season.

"It is great that all the players gain confidence and have minutes on the pitch. Taking decisions is the most important thing for a coach, but you can't always keep everyone in the team happy."

Barcelona say Neymar suffers ankle sprain

+ Barcelona (AFP) / Fecha: 08.22.2014, 09:58 hs / Tags: ESP, Liga, Barcelona, Neymar

Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar celebrates his goal during the 49th Joan Gamper Trophy match against Leon Club at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on August 18, 2014

Brazilian superstar Neymar has suffered an ankle sprain in training, Barcelona announced Friday, adding to the club's injury woes just two days before opening their new La Liga campaign.

Neymar complained of pain in his left ankle at the end of Thursday's training session and tests confirmed he had suffered a mild sprain, Barcelona reported as they prepared to face Elche at home on Sunday.

"His return to training will depend on the development of the injury," the club said in a statement.

The Brazilian had looked to be in fine form Monday when he scored two of Barcelona's goals in their 6-0 destruction of Mexican side Club Leon in a friendly.

Neymar's new injury comes just four days after he had received the all-clear to play for the first time since suffering a broken vertebra in his back during the World Cup.

The 22-year-old missed out on his country's disastrous 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany on home soil after suffering the injury when he was clattered by Juan Camilo Zuniga towards the end of Brazil's 2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia.

However, the injury could have been much worse as Neymar revealed that had the impact of Zuniga's knee on his back been slightly higher he could have been left paralysed.

Barcelona's new signings Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Thomas Vermaelen are also both sidelined by injury, while Luis Suarez continues his four-month ban for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup.

Neymar set to feature in Suarez Barca debut

+ Madrid (AFP) / Fecha: 08.18.2014, 10:37 hs / Tags: ESP, Liga, Neymar

Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar takes part in a training session in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona, on August 15, 2014

Brazilian striker Neymar has been given the all clear to play his first game since suffering a broken vertebra in his back during the World Cup when Barcelona play Mexican side Club Leon on Monday.

The 22-year-old could get his first experience of playing alongside new teammate Luis Suarez as the Uruguayan is expected to make his Barca debut after being cleared to play in friendly matches last week by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, despite serving a four-month ban from competitive games.

Neymar missed out on his country's ultimately disastrous 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany on home soil after suffering the injury when he was clattered by Juan Camilo Zuniga towards the end of Brazil's 2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia.

However, the injury could have been much worse as Neymar revealed that had the impact of Zuniga's knee on his back been centimetres higher he could have been left paralysed.

Lionel Messi is also likely to get his first outing since his Argentina side lost the World Cup final to Germany on Monday as Barca finalise their pre-season build up to the start of the La Liga campaign when they host Elche on Sunday.

Brazil pin-up Neymar mobbed in Japan

+ Tokyo (AFP) / Fecha: 07.31.2014, 11:56 hs / Tags: JPN, Neymar, BRA

Brazilian football star Neymar waves to photographers during an event in Tokyo, on July 31, 2014

Tokyo caught "Neymar fever" on Thursday when the Brazilian superstar jetted into the Japanese capital sporting sunglasses, baseball cap and designer stubble on a whistle-stop visit to sign a sponsorship deal with a bed manufacturer.

The 22-year-old Barcelona forward, still recovering after fracturing a vertebra at the World Cup, was greeted by 700 screaming fans at Tokyo's Haneda airport before being whisked off to a television studio, which rolled out a red carpet for his arrival as if for royalty.

"My back is getting better and I'm hoping to join up with my team-mates as soon as possible," Neymar told reporters later as he perched on a foam mattress the makers claimed had secret relaxation properties.

"I have to make sure I continue the rehab and get my back fixed properly so I can be at 100 percent. I'm really looking forward to next season," he added.

Neymar will form part of arguably the world's most fearsome strike-force alongside Lionel Messi and new Barca signing Luis Suarez.

"It's always been my dream to play in Europe and win as many titles as possible. I'm not striving to be the world's greatest player -- just the best player I can be in order to help Brazil."

Dressed in black with his cap on back-to-front and wearing a chunky gold chain, Neymar appeared on Japan's Fuji TV, triggering bedlam in the studio as guests and audience members in replica Brazil jerseys lined up to have their shirts signed.

The Brazilian pin-up, still wearing a protective corset for his injury, looked sheepish when asked if he liked Japanese women, replying diplomatically: "Japanese ladies are very pretty. But I'm Brazilian so I think I prefer Brazilian girls."

Once he had left and order had been restored to the studio, several Neymar "lookalikes" were wheeled out -- including a farmer, a roofer and a noodle chef.

Neymar carried the hopes of host nation Brazil on his shoulders at the World Cup but his involvement ended in tears as he suffered his injury in the 2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia, pictures of him being airlifted to hospital by helicopter sending the country into shock.

Without their talisman, who had scored four goals in the tournament, Brazil suffered their most humiliating defeat ever when they were pulverised 7-1 by eventual champions Germany in the semi-final.

The world's top athletes often criss-cross the globe for lucrative endorsements in Japan. Real Madrid heart-throb Cristiano Ronaldo recently visited to plug a facial muscle trainer, while former England captain David Beckham still enjoys huge marketing power in the country.

Spain court summons Neymar father in tax fraud probe

+ Madrid (AFP) / Fecha: 07.30.2014, 18:33 hs / Tags: ESP, fraud, Barcelona, Neymar, court

FC Barcelona's Brazilian player Neymar (R) poses with Barcelona's President Sandro Rosell at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, on June 3, 2013

Brazilian striker Neymar's father will have to appear in court as a witness as part of a probe into possible tax crimes over Barcelona's 86-million-euro ($117 million) signing of the player, a Spanish court ruled Wednesday.

Judge Pablo Ruz of the National Court issued a written summons for Neymar da Silva Santos Sr and Barcelona financial director Nestor Almela to appear on October 1.

The judge also asked Neymar's father to hand over contracts and documents relating to his son's signing with Barcelona last year.

The judge is looking into allegations that Spanish tax authorities lost out on up to 11.8 million euros ($15.8m) in total related to Neymar's deal with Barcelona.

A tax office report cited by the judge listed lost revenues of 2.4 million euros in 2011; 6.8 million euros in 2013 and as much as 2.6 million euros in 2014.

The Neymar transfer case was started by one of Barca's own members, Jordi Cases.

He accused former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell of misappropriation for not declaring publicly that 40 million of the 57.1 million figure initially quoted by Barca was paid to N&N, a company controlled by the player's parents.

Rosell resigned from Barcelona in January.

The club then revealed that the entire cost of the operation including Neymar's signing bonus, commissions, marketing deals, a donation to the player's foundation and other agreements totalled 86.2 million euros -- far above the 57 million euros first announced by Barcelona.

As a result Barcelona were then indicted for alleged tax fraud linked to the signing.

Rosell defended the legality of Neymar's contract during questioning as tax crime suspect in the case at the court last week.

Barcelona managing director Antoni Rossich also argued before the court that Neymar's contracts respected the law.