With a club like FC Barcelona, there is never a dull moment. For while everyone is united on the field, cheering the Blaugrana on to glory, the club is almost always fiercely divided behind the scenes as politics creep into the spotlight. Sometimes it affects the club on the field, sometimes it doesn't -- but it always steals the headlines, often for all the wrong reasons. In this case, current Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has spoke out as some journalists accuse him of pocketing money from a friendly that his firm helped arrange for the Brazilian national team.
Speaking on "El Club de la Mitjanit", a programme on Catalunya Radio, Rosell fiercely denied these claims, saying that he "has nothing to hide", and challenged the journalists accusing him of these actions to take him to court. Rosell also refuted reports that he cannot enter Brazil, and spoke candidly when asked about his "friendship" with former CBF president, Ricardo Teixeira. Rosell is adamant that Teixeira is not facing any legal problems, instead insisting that "to his knowledge, there is no case opened against him".
The Barca president revealed that he did help Teixeira apply for Andorran citizenship, going on to reaffirm that there is "no problem" with that, particularly as Teixeira chose to reside in the United States.
Rosell also spoke about the sale of his business, before the topic of the conversation turned to Barcelona -- and the signing of Neymar in particular: "Neymar cost €57 million. Period. No more. We also closed a first option on three players from Santos for €7 million, but that's a different transaction. It has nothing to do with the Neymar deal. We had a clause that Madrid were willing to match for €40 million, and as they negotiated with DIS, the investment group, they [DIS] asked for a lot more, as did the player. We will know whether the transfer has gone well in two or three years."
The deal to bring Neymar to the Camp Nou was not Barcelona's only business of the summer, as Thiago Alcantara and David Villa both departed the Catalan club for fees perceived to be lower than their market value. In particular, the infamous clause in Thiago's contract infuriated many Cules, although Rosell has no regrets over the situation confirming that he did not tell Tito Vilanova about the clause and will never bring clauses to the manager's attention, as it interferes with the team selection.
Obviously, a president should not have any influence over team selection (cough, Florentino Perez, cough) -- and it's worth noting that the clause was not inserted by the board, but by the player's agent, Pere Guardiola. Make of that what you will, but Rosell believes the eventual €25 million fee paid for Thiago's services by Bayern Munich represents good business, given the circumstances.
With regards to David Villa, Rosell revealed that the club accepted "the only real and formal proposal", contrasting reports that both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal had lodged an official bid. Naturally, the Barca president also defended the relatively low fee, pointing out that the "higher the salary, the lower the price", especially once Villa's age is taken into consideration.
It was also confirmed that the club received formal offers for Cesc Fabregas, in the region of €40 million (which, curiously, is a lower price than Manchester United would have paid for Ander Herrera, once the relevant taxes had been paid), but neither the club, nor the player wanted to accept the offer.
Sandro Rosell also revealed that he was the one who suggested Gerardo Martino's name to the board and to Sporting Director, Andoni Zubizarreta, who went on to decide from a shortlist of "three names" and ultimately negotiate a contract with the Argentine tactician.
The upcoming World Cup means that Barcelona are "probably" not going to embark on another pre-season tour next year, while Rosell also spoke about the condition of Tito Vilanova, hoping that "one day soon", Vilanova will be well enough to watch a game at the Camp Nou with his wife and children.
Whether you like the man or not, we can all at least agree on that...
Note: To read more quotes from Sandro Rosell's interview, be sure to check out the highlights from Mundo Deportivo
More from Barca Blaugranes:
- Putting FC Barcelona's Reign Atop La Liga Into Context
- FC Barcelona News: 3 September 2013; Sergio Busquets Out of Spain Squad, Transfer Deadline Passes
- La Liga: FC Barcelona 3-2 Valencia CF: Player Ratings
- Transfer Deadline Day Poll: Neymar vs Gareth Bale
- Transfer Window Closing and Barcelona's Unavoidable Defender Issue