New Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has hit out at Real Madrid and sections of the Spanish media for supposedly instigating the close scrutiny of Neymar’s contract that has dominated the news agenda for the last few weeks.
The controversial issue eventually led to last week’s resignation of Bartomeu’s predecessor Sandro Rosell, following the news that alleged irregularities in the contract would be examined by a judge.
Even though the legal case was brought by one of Barca’s own members, Jordi Cases – who has since retracted his complaint following the resignation of Rosell – the new chief of the Nou Camp still believes outside influences were at work.
“In Madrid they find it hard to see Barca dominating and they struggleto digest that we have players like Neymar and Messi,” said Bartomeu.
Refusing to clarify whether he was speaking directly about Real Madrid or the city’s media, he added: “There is a certain belligerence against Barca, but I don’t like to talk about Madrid. I’m happy to have a democratic club like ours.”
Bartomeu also insisted that Lionel Messi is not for sale, following repeated speculation that Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are considering ambitious summer bids to sign the Argentine forward.
“Messi is not for sale,” insisted the Barca president, reiterating his desire to give Messi a new contract which ensures he is the highestpaid player in the world.
“We want to sit down, without any rush, with Leo’s father,” he added. “It’s not something that’s happening tomorrow and we have plenty of time, but we will do what it takes to make sure he is the best paid player.”
Meanwhile, Barca defender Dani Alves has spoken up in defence of his club and international teammate Neymar after seeing his now infamous contract become the source of such controversy.
Alves feels his fellow Brazilian has been treated unfairly throughout the saga, and said: “The fact that his contract had to be shown to explain his signing is disrespectful.”
However, Alves also feels his club is strong enough to withstand the issue, echoing his president’s suggestion the issue had been engineered to distract Barca’s attention away from their title challenge.
“We have to do our best to not allow ourselves to be destabilised,” he said. “The structure and the project hasn’t changed. Between all of us, we have to continue forward.”
And Alves believes the exciting title race between Barca, Atletico and Real Madrid will go down to the wire, saying: “This title will be very special for the team that wins. It tastes better when you overcome something this difficult.
“I believe it will go to the last match of the season.”