Belfodil hints at Inter exit

The young forward is unhappy with his lack of playing time and has suggested he could be forced to quit the club in order to bolster his World Cup chances

Ishak Belfodil has revealed that he could leave Inter in the January transfer window in order to get regular first-team football.

The Algeria international joined the Giuseppe Meazza side from Parma ahead of the 2013-14 campaign, but has so far been struggling to make an impact at his new club, making just eight appearances in Serie A.

With Belfodil mainly warming the bench in the first half of the season, the striker admits he could be forced to move in the winter in order to boost his chances of making Vahid Halilhodzic’s World Cup squad.

“I obviously would like to play more often. The World Cup is coming up and I have to be in good shape,” Belfodil told Le Buteur.

“The transfer window is approaching, so I will talk with the directors and see what’s happening. I am happy at Inter, but Algeria coach Halilhodzic has made it clear that I have to play.

“That’s why I’m considering my options. The transfer market could throw up a solution.”

Belfodil, 21, has a contract with Inter until June 2018.

Commission impossible: Neymar, his father and Barcelona's millions

Goal Transfer List 2013: Santos say they were paid only €17.1m, the Catalans claim they spent €57m on the Brazilian. And nobody wants to explain where the rest ended up…

By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

It has been described as the least transparent transfer in the history of football. Neymar’s sensational move from Santos to Barcelona remains, some seven months later, about as clear as mud.

How much did he cost? Who got what? Where did the money go? Were there additional payments? The official figure released by Barcelona is €57 million, yet Santos say they only received €17.1m, third-party owners are annoyed by feeling short-changed and then there’s an unusual first-option payment for three of the Brazilian side’s youngsters, plus a couple of friendly fixtures between the two teams thrown in for good measure.

Deals involving South American sides and third-party ownership are always complicated. Nothing new there; even going back to the days of Diego Maradona, such deals took time, intense negotiations and plenty of patience as the money is dished out to all of the parties involved.

The real cost of this transfer, including the three Santos starlets who will probably never end up at the Catalan club (Victor Andrade, Gabriel Barbosa and Giva), plus the two friendly fixtures, means the total transfer fee alone for the Neymar deal could stand at around €69.5m, not €57m.

Real Madrid made Neymar their No.1 target in 2011 but missed out on the deal and ended up paying a world-record fee for Gareth Bale.

Red tape ruled out a deal for the 13-year-old Neymar in 2005 as part of the move which brought Robinho to Madrid from Santos. Neymar, back then, travelled to Spain and was even registered as a Madrid player for a short time.

Club president Florentino Perez (above) kept in touch and later paid money to Neymar’s agent, Wagner Ribeiro, in order to ensure his club would have first option on the forward. Ribeiro was keen to push through a deal in 2011, as were Santos, but Perez upset Neymar on two conference calls, when he told the player he would need to start off in Madrid’s youth team and earn his place. Real, he said, were the world’s greatest club and he wouldn’t be able to walk into the team.

By this time, Neymar was already a superstar in Brazil and this stance is said to have let in Barcelona, with Sandro Rosell, their president, saying all the right things to win over the youngster and his father.

Madrid also paid for Neymar to undergo a medical in Brazil in 2011, but the player was by now keen on Barcelona. From the age of around 17, he was set on joining the Catalan club and longed to play alongside Lionel Messi.

Real remained interested right until the end and offered more money than Barca, with Perez prepared to pay virtually whatever it took to get his man.

Santos told Neymar they would rather he joined Madrid, but the forward’s mind was made up even though the player’s father kept Real in the loop.

With his son in such high demand from two of the world’s biggest clubs (and eternal enemies), Neymar Sr could virtually name his price.

The sum officially received by Santos seems surprisingly low for a player who has been described, after Pele, as the finest footballer to grace the Brazilian club. It is worth remembering that Santos closed down their futsal and female football teams just to pay out a lucrative new contract and keep Neymar in a controversial deal back in 2011.

Meanwhile, supermarket chain DIS – who paid €2.8m for 40 per cent of Neymar’s rights some years ago – want to know what they are owed. According to Santos, the fee was €17.1m (meaning DIS take €6.84m), but Barca’s claim that the deal cost €57m means the supermarket chain would be entitled to €22.8m and even €27.8m if the three young players and two friendlies are included (which, of course, they weren’t – not officially anyway).

A source close to the deal in Brazil claims Santos and Barca agreed an unusual structure for the cash to be paid. “Santos believe they are owed money by DIS (something DIS are thought to dispute) and the relationship is anything but good. They decided, along with Barcelona, for the money to be paid in different concepts and therefore reduced the amount owed to DIS.”

That explains how Santos may have recouped extra funds from the deal, but still leaves the question of the remaining €40m. DIS received none of that, either, with just a quarter of it accounted for by Barca. The club revealed paying an initial €10m payment to Neymar’s father in 2012 to ensure the player would ultimately choose the Catalans and not rivals Real Madrid. That figure appeared in Barca’s accounts for last year and was confirmed by vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu on the day of Neymar’s unveiling at Camp Nou back in June. “Negotiations with Santos began back in 2011,” he said. “And that’s why there is, in last year’s budget, a payment of €10m, as a contingency fund.”

Santos claim Neymar’s father did not take that €10m, yet the club cannot explain where the money did go.

But what about the other €30m? That money was never seen by Santos, nor DIS. “We saw on the television that Barca said the deal was €57m but here [in Brazil], Santos speak of €17m. We feel cheated,” said DIS CEO Roberto Moreno in a radio interview in the summer.

DIS is also unhappy about the €10m down-payment made by the Catalan club. “Barca admitted making a previous payment of €10m when Neymar was at Santos,” Moreno added. “And that, in Fifa regulations, is seen as a serious infringement when a player is under contract with another club.”

The other key claim is that Neymar’s father – and his company N&N – may have pocketed the entire €40m. “We paid €17.5m (sic) to Santos and €40m to an association who owned the rights to Neymar,” Barca president Sandro Rosell said last week, but the Catalans’ chief refused to elaborate on those figures.

Rosell has been reported by Barca socio Jordi Cases for “inappropriate use” of club funds. Cases, who had hoped to go ahead with a censure motion against Rosell but was forced to scrap that plan due to the difficulty of finding sufficient support from fellow socios, says he and others have a right to know how that money was spent. “I would say that in no circumstances should such an important payment as €40m be concealed. As a socio and co-owner of our beloved club, I should have the right to know under which concept those €40m were paid out.”

Cases, like many others, also believes the €40m may have been paid to Neymar and his father in the form of a signing-on fee or as wages not included in the official figures. And if that were the case, Barcelona could be liable to pay tax on those funds, propelling the total cost of the transfer fee to in excess of €100m. “If that €40m was a hidden salary for the player, those monies should have been declared to Hacienda [the Spanish tax office],” he said. “And that would have taken the cost of the signing to over €100m.”

Including Neymar’s (official) wages over five years, plus the fee, the total outlay stands at €124m by Barcelona as it is. Seven months after the deal was closed, however, it remains unclear just where a lot of that money ended up – and whether the Catalan club should in fact have paid more for their brilliant Brazilian in the form of taxes. Just like the forward bamboozles defenders in La Liga, the riddle of his transfer is proving similarly enigmatic.

Click HERE for the Goal Transfer List 2013 top 10 in full.

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Liverpool open record contract talks with Suarez

Managing director Ian Ayre has held the first meeting with the Uruguayan’s agent in Barcelona and hopes to ward off interest from Europe’s top clubs with a new big-money deal

By Paul Clennam

Liverpool have made the first step in their bid to tie Luis Suarez down to a club-record contract.

Managing director Ian Ayre flew to Barcelona to hold talks with Suarez’s agent, Pere Guardiola, on Tuesday and, although he did not offer a new deal, the meeting signals the Reds’ intent to avoid another protracted summer saga.

It is understood that the club are prepared to pay their star forward more than £130,000 (€154,000) per week to stay at Anfield for the long-term.

Liverpool, under the stewardship of Fenway Sports Group, have traditionally been reluctant to open contract negotiations during the season but are desperate to fend off interest in the Uruguay international, whose current deal expires in 2016.

The 26-year-old has been in blistering form since returning from suspension for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, scoring 17 Premier League goals in 11 games and keeping his side just two points behind Arsenal at the top of the table.

Goal understands that Real Madrid are preparing to lay the groundwork on a £60 million (€70m) move in January, though the Spanish giants expect a deal to be more likely next summer.

Suarez spent the summer angling for a move away from Anfield in pursuit of Champions League football, which strained relations between the player, his agent and the club.

But he has put that behind with a string of exceptional displays and is now settled on Merseyside once more. Liverpool, for their part, believe that the striker’s efforts were driven by Champions League ambition rather than financial reward and hope to offer him both next season.

After being named the Football Supporters’ Federation’s player of the year for 2013 on Monday, Suarez said: “After so many difficult moments for me I was able to win the supporters back, and that was unbelievable when I came back to play.”

Redknapp reluctant to take Taarabt back to QPR

The midfielder has struggled at Fulham this season and failed to feature in Rene Meulensteen’s first three games in charge, but the Rs boss is happy to leave him there

Harry Redknapp does not expect Adel Taarabt back at QPR despite the Moroccan struggling for regular games at Fulham.

The midfielder moved across London on a season-long loan following QPR’s relegation from the Premier League but has been afforded just three starts in the top flight.

Taarabt has failed to feature since Rene Meulensteen replaced Martin Jol at Fulham, but Redknapp does not expect to see him return to Loftus Road until the end of his loan spell.

“I’ve heard that Fulham do want him out. Let’s see what happens,” he told reporters.

“I’m not desperate. Players who wanted to leave in the summer because we got relegated – good luck to them at their new clubs.

“I’ve not even thought about Adel. He’s at Fulham as far as I’m concerned and Fulham are in trouble but he’s still not playing, which must be disappointing.”

Perez: No bids for Di Maria

Despite reported interest from the likes of Monaco and Manchester United, the Real Madrid president insisted there has been no concrete offers for the Argentine

Real Madrid have not received any offers for Angel Di Maria, according to president Florentino Perez.

Di Maria, who will replace the injured Gareth Bale for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey second leg against Olimpic de Xativa, has been linked with a move away from the Bernabeu. 

However, despite reported interest from the likes of Monaco and Manchester United, Perez has insisted no bids have been lodged for the Argentina international, who joined Real from Benfica in 2010. 

“He has a contract in place until 2018 and many clubs want him,” he said.

“We have not received any offer for the sale of Angel Di Maria. This is the truth of this subject.

“These are things that do not happen but are written about.

“Nobody has told me anything about this situation, I have asked the club if someone has approached us and nobody knows anything.”