Neymar da Silva Santos received SPORT at the Instituto Projeto Neymar Junior (INJR) headquarters, the social project in the Jardim Gloria neighbourhood of Praia Grande where Ney spent his childhood. In a long, calm and deliberate conversation, the Barcelona star's agent and dad spoke about the legal battles which the 23-year-old has become tangled up in. He also underlined that his son is absolutely happy in the Catalan capital, but made it clear that there's no rush to renew. That will only happen when there is peace.
How do you explain that Santos are now asking for a ban of six months for your son?
For two years there have been people trying to destabalise us in any way possible. Everything that Santos have said, be in the current president or the previous one, has nothing to do with what the documents indicate.
In what sense?
The gave Neymar Jr a letter freeing him up to plan his future, now they don't recognise it. They denounce my son and ask for a severe punishment and then they release a statement saying they haven't done that. They have not complied with what they put on that letter.
Does this affect the family?
No, but it's an unnecessary exhaustion. They're internal political questions for Santos. It's their problem. They are things that have nothing to do with us. Let them find their way and leave us in peace. But don't let anyone doubt that we will defend Neymar Jr against any type of attack.
Have you spoke with Barça about the situation?
They are also pissed off. It's all out of place. [Santos] have acted without intelligence, it's as if the owners of the club have mental diarrhoea. Two years have passed since my son came to Barcelona and now they're questioning a transaction made by FIFA. Who had the federative rights? Santos. And now? Barcelona. It's as simple as that.
Why has a transaction which was planned for two years ended up generating so many legal proceedings?
No-one investigated us until we arrived in Barcelona. It's all motivated by complaints from third parties, who are looking for their 'rights', 'rights' which I do not know what they on about. All the investigations against us started in the same way: "Based on information published in the media, we have come to investigate..."
In this sense, what's been done to protect your son?
Neymar Jr is outside of all this, in all senses. He plays football and he will continue doing so. The companies I created offer career management, which is something new in the world of football. He just has to worry about playing.
He sometimes positions himself on social media...
As much as I am his representative and my companies manage his image rights, we are father and son. He's not unaware of what's going on when things reach his father, but he doesn't have to worry.
Are you negotiating his new contract?
We have three years left on the current deal. We, the family, are suffering from huge insecurity [to do with taxes and the legal proceedings], so that affects how we plan his career. We need these matters to be over. How can we extend something if we don't have tax stability? What is it that is happening? Spain has to tell me if my companies can work with Neymar Jr; they have to define what their position is. We are seeing various players suffering from tax sanctions. Why would I anticipate a renewal if I don't have judicial security that will back us to be able to work? I intend to wait and be calm to manage Neymar in the best way possible.
That's very clear...
We have to be ready. One cannot be playing football for so long and later be surprise by a trial or an investigation. For that reason, so that we can be calm we want to know what we can do, how we can pay taxes in Spain. There are all these problems with N&N Consulting that need to be resolved. We are giving everything for things to be clarified.
The most likely outcome is a new deal with Barça?
We are happy. Neymar chose to play here and he is super happy in Barcelona. You can see that. We know that Barcelona is different: It's not just about winning, but convincing and playing well. That's where you find the greatness of this club.
And what happened with Manchester United?
They phoned Barcelona and got the answer that Neymar has a contract and is not for sale. Everyone is calm. Neymar still has three years on his deal.
Has any club phoned you this year?
No. We are going to continue to look for the renewal. We have a lot of time to discuss it. It's something that we have to sort out properly, so that after we are not surprised again by attacks via the internal politics of clubs or by people with an outside interest.
Are you referring to Spain or Brazil?
To everything. Our family, Neymar himself, we want to know where we are. This situation is interfering in a negative way.
When do you think everything will be over and talks can begin over a new deal?
We don't know, hopefully as soon as possible. I want to talk with Barcelona because all they time people are talking about the "Neymar Case here" or the "Neymar case there" and that means there's an instability over what to do. We are acting correctly. For us, it's clear what we have done in Barcelona, but there's still a discussion to be had about it all.
How's your relationship with the board?
Thankfully it's always been good and transparent. We have also been very transparent. I'm a very careful person. I prefer to keep all documents so that we can't be affected. Imagine if I hadn't kept the document Santos gave us giving us assurances that we could plan for the future. What situation would we be in now? I would have to prove that everything I am saying is the truth. I was a cuatious person because I knew that I was leading the career of a player like Neymar.
Have these judicial issues had an affect on Neymar's image rights?
No, we have great sponsors and our commercial relationships are very good. Neymar has huge potential, no just because of football, but also because of his charisma and his form of being happy when he plays. He's big in the Asian market, in Japan. We are making strides all over the world. We are fighting for him to continue with his clean image.
Barça was always the perfect place to win a Ballon d'Or...
And it still is.
Is that an important thing in Neymar's future?
Of course. We always speak of it. Neymar Jr doesn't need to be the best in the world, though, but he does need to be in the best tournament in the world, in the best teams in the world. He needs to be there to grow individually, as a person... but what Neymar likes is to play football.
Do you hope to be finalists this year?
We don't know if he will be in the final three. What we do know is that Messi, the best in the world, will win the Ballon d'Or. To be among the best in the world is important because it massages any footballer's ego, but that is not Neymar's motive for playing football.
And how have you seen Neymar's start to the season?
In Seville, even though the result was bad, we saw the Neymar of always... a dynamic player looking for goals. He couldn't do pre-season because of mumps, but in the 10 days without competitions [during the last international break] he was able disconnect and Barça gave him a min pre-season. I think we're on the right path. It's a situation similar to last season, when the team really took off rom January. I don't see this season being different.