‘Real Madrid still smarting over failure to sign Neymar’

Barcelona, Sep 3 (IANS) FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu claims rivals Real Madrid have still not got over the fact that Brazilian football superstar Neymar chose to move to the Catalan giants over the capital club.

Neymar opted to sign for Barcelona from Brazilian side Santos in May 2013 and he has gone on to prove money well spent as he has formed one of the most formidable front line partnerships in world football with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

However, the fee paid for Neymar remains a contentious issue in both Spain and Brazil as the official figure released was 57 million euros ($64.04 million) — but was later revealed the fee was 86.2 million euros ($96.83 million).

As a result of the fee dispute, Bartomeu is currently awaiting trial amidst allegations of tax evasion and fraud regarding Neymar’s transfer from Santos and he has hinted that the charges are being motivated against him by a smarting Madrid.

“In Madrid they still don’t understand Neymar chose Barca and they are trying to create difficulties for the club and for him,” Bartomeu was quoted as saying dailymail.co.uk on Wednesday.

“Let’s see how the trial finishes, but I will never get tired of defending club and player interests.”

Recently, leading English club Manchester United showed interest in trying to sign Neymar in the transfer window but Bartomeu said he wanted to see the 23-year-old end his career with them and are already in talks to extend the Brazilian captain’s deal that ends in 2018.

“We haven’t started negotiations with Neymar for his renewal but he is a very important player to us and we hope he retires from football at Barcelona.”

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