Tuesday Kickoff: Neymar case “embarrassing” to Barcelona; Inter target Torres; and more

NeymarBarcelona1-RayoVallecano (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Since the start of the year, Barcelona have seen their form dip on and off the field.

On the field, the club have lost each of their previous two road matches, first to Real Sociedad and second to Real Valladolid, while off the field the club has dealt with the Neymar transfer tax fiasco. In an interview with the BBC, president Josep Maria Bartomeu even went as far as to say that the Spanish tax authorities claim’s were “embarrassing” for the club.

“It’s embarrassing because we think we are right,” Bartomeu told the BBC. “We think we did things properly, that everything was done in the correct and best way. Barcelona acted in the proper way but if somebody thinks that there is damage to the name of Barcelona then there is damage to be repaired. We are not happy with the situation but we will defend our club very strongly.”

Last month, Barcelona paid €13.5 million to the Spanish authorities over their tax fraud allegations, despite Bartomeu and the club maintaining their innocence and claiming they followed the law. In all, the club have reportedly shelled out €111.7 million in costs pertaining to Neymar’s transfer. The club announced last June that they had spent only €57 million on the Brazilian forward’s transfer.

For Neymar, the season has been mixed with success and disappointment. He’s scored seven goals in 20 La Liga matches but struggled last Saturday against Valladolid following a long trip back from South Africa, where he scored a hat-trick with the Brazilian National Team in a friendly match.

Here are some more stories to kick off your day:

INTER CHASE FOR NEW FORWARDS

With a new owner in tow, it’s no surprise that Inter Milan are ready to open the checkbook this summer.

According to a report in England, Inter Milan are interested in signing Chelsea forward Fernando Torres, and if unsuccessful, then they’ll look to sign Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko. Torres, despite his own struggles at Chelsea, could be too expensive to sign for Inter, making Dzeko a better option for Inter as he heads into the final season of his contract this summer.

Inter Milan are currently in fifth place in Serie A but have struggled overall to score goals this season. Rodrigo Palacio leads the team with 14 goals in all competitions this season and is the only Inter player with double-figure scoring.

COURTOIS COULD BE SOLD FOR €30 MILLION

It’s no surprise that Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is once again subject to plenty of transfer rumors heading into the summer window.

Though he has denied an agreement is in place with any club, the on-loan goalkeeper from Chelsea is currently linked with a move to crosstown rival Real Madrid. If Chelsea were to sell the Belgian international, Diario AS reports that it would take a bid of at least €30 million to allow Chelsea to let him move on.

Courtois joined Chelsea in 2011 and signed a five-year deal, though he’s been on-loan each season at Atletico Madrid. In that time, he’s blossomed into a world-class goalkeeper who is expected to start for his country at the World Cup this summer.

QUICK KICKS

A match between Turkish clubs Fenerbahce and Trabzonspor was abandoned in the first half due to crowd trouble. (REPORT)

Arjen Robben admitted in an interview with Gazzetta Dello Sport that he rejected a move to Juventus via text message. (REPORT)

Despite his club being in second place in the Russian Premier League, Zenit St. Petersburg manager Luciano Spalletti was sacked on Monday. (REPORT)

Everton are looking into re-signing Jack Rodwell from Manchester City after the England international has failed to earn a first-team place since moving to the Etihad Stadium. (REPORT)

The DFL Supercup, contested between the Bundesliga and German Cup champions, is expected to be postponed from it’s current date of August 9 because Bayern Munich, who will almost surely play in it, only return from their tour of the U.S. on August 7. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these stories? Do you believe that Barcelona’s stature has taken a hit from the Neymar transfer? Do you think that Inter could sign Fernando Torres? Do you see Courtois moving to Real Madrid?

Share your thoughts below.

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8 Responses to Tuesday Kickoff: Neymar case “embarrassing” to Barcelona; Inter target Torres; and more

  1. midwest ref says:

    Additional news: Joe McGinniss an author known for his controversial biographies, including an unauthorized bio of Sarah Palin, died. I am bringing it up because he also wrote The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, a great book documenting a small town club’s rise up to Serie B in Italy. Lots of fun to read if you haven’t read it.

    • kar says:

      +1 — That was an amazing book — great read.

      Interestingly this is another book where Joe embedded himself with a group and used his access to cover topics likely not intended by his subjects but of great interest to the reader.

    • Brain Guy says:

      Great book. Equal parts soccer, history, cultural study, and mystery/suspense.

      • midwest ref says:

        I agree; but don’t get me wrong, the idea of Sarah Palin having an affair with Glen Rice as reported by McGinniss probably is more tantalizing to the general public.

    • biff says:

      Thanks for the tip, guys. You convinced me.

  2. Gerard D. says:

    Just some background on Spanish politics and media–you should not ever trust a single word about Barcelona from Marca. This isn’t club politics. This is deep-seeded nationalist hatred.

    This is Spain vs. Catalonia. This is Spanish nationalism–the Madrid prosecutors with strong ties to the nationalist movement–using tax authority to harass Barcelona with the undercurrents of separatism much like what happened under Franco.

    It hasn’t gone away. They did it with Messi and they’re doing it with Barcelona. They’ll do it to someone else in Barcelona as well.

    The stories we don’t get are the other wealthy individuals in Catolina being targeted by Madrid courts as political prizes since much of the Spanish revenue problem stems from tax shelters and out-of-country earnings, which were made taxable by a hodgepodge of laws enacted only in the last couple of years.

    • RK says:

      I’m surprised this hasn’t violated some of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.

      • Gerard D. says:

        I don’t think UEFA wants anything to do with trying to regulate the corruption, bribery and shenanigans that happen in third world countries in terms of soccer leagues.

        I imagine they probably tell the clubs to try and make it appear all above the board and will turn a blind eye or a minor slap on the wrist when something happens.