Neymar Tax Fraud Case Hurting Barcelona Star, Admits Gerardo Martino

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2014

FILE - In this June 3, 2013 file photo, FC Barcelona's then new signing Neymar gestures upon his arrival at the club's office at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain. A Spanish court has charged Spanish league champion Barcelona with tax fraud of  euro 9.1 million ($12.5 million) over the transfer of Brazil forward Neymar. Judge Pablo Ruz said in his decision, released on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 there was enough evidence to merit charges over Neymar's 57 million-euro (then $77 million) move from Santos last summer. Thursday's decision comes a day after public prosecutor Jose Perals charged Barcelona with fabricating simulated contracts and using
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino believes the ongoing tax fraud case investigating the transfer of Neymar is having an effect on the Brazilian player.

As reported by Tom Conn of Inside Spanish Football, Martino suggests problems could be festering under the surface for the man who joined Barca from Santos during the summer:

Worried about Neymar? If I had to answer in regards to when he will play or how I see him in training, I’d say no, but it’s true that sometimes things go more than skin deep. 

Sometimes he may feel a sense of injustice, of surprise. I’m not with a player 24 hours a day to learn how he feels. I see him normal, but what’s currently happening around him isn’t normal.

Former president Sandro Rosell resigned after the Spanish court's decision to go ahead with an investigation that suggested the Blaugrana allowed a "misappropriation of funds" during the £48.6 million transfer, per BBC Sport.

Although the club subsequently revealed they paid €86.2 million for Neymar, Barca were charged by Judge Pablo Ruz on Feb. 20, as reported by Sky Sports. Writing on his official Instagram page, Neymar highlighted his frustration toward the situation:

"I am sick and tired of this... I've had enough of all this talk," said Neymar.

Jon Super/Associated Press

The 22-year-old last appeared during Barcelona's 2-0 Champions League victory over Manchester City, a match which he entered as a substitute. He showed some quality touches during his cameo and worked well with Dani Alves to help his Brazilian compatriot score the second goal.

Speaking after the match, Xavi said "the most important thing is that this doesn't affect Ney professionally," as reported by Marca. Both Martino's comments and Neymar's recent post suggest the player may be struggling under the weight of a story that could threaten to ruin his season.

Neymar needs to ensure his mentality is in the right place ahead of the summer. He is the bearer of huge pressure from Brazil, who expect the creative forward to lead their charge for World Cup victory on home soil.

Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

He performed excellently during last year's Confederations Cup, proving he is a regular match-winner on the international stage, but the player will want this saga to end quickly.

Neymar has 10 goals and 11 assists in 24 appearances across La Liga and the Champions League for Barca, per WhoScored, but he needs to remain focused if he is destined to fire the Samba Boys to yet another World Cup victory.