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Wenger on Neymar to PSG: Anything possible when a country owns a club

Arsene Wenger has characterised Neymar’s €222 million move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain as “beyond rationality” and has blasted the deal as being a result of when “a country owns a football club.”
Qatar Sports Investments became the majority shareholder of the Ligue 1 club in 2011 and has proceeded to make headlines for the exorbitant sums they’ve spent on new recruits, which culminated in the club’s world record signing of the Brazil No. 10 on Thursday.
And Wenger says Qatar’s presence and the resources it possesses has tipped the scales in PSG’s favour when compared to Europe’s other clubs.

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“For me, it is the consequence of the ownerships and that has completely changed the whole landscape of football in the last 15 years,” Wenger said.
“Once a country owns a club, everything is possible. It becomes very difficult to respect the financial fair play because you can have different ways or different interests for a country to have such a big player to represent a country. It can’t justify the investments and looks unusual for the game.
“Apart from that, we are not in a period any more where you think, in some places: ‘If I invest that, I will get that back.’ We are beyond that. The number today involves a lot of passion, pride, public interest and you cannot rationalise that any more.
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“It also looks like the inflation is accelerating. We crossed the €100m line last year and, only one year later, we’re crossing the €200m line.
“When you think that Trevor Francis was the first £1m player [when he joined Nottingham Forest from Birmingham City in 1979] and that looked unreasonable, it shows you how much distance and how far we have come, how big football has become.
“It’s beyond calculation and beyond rationality.”
Sources tell ESPN that Neymar’s five-year contract is set to pay him €30m per year after taxes, an outlay Wenger says is “out of normal society.”
“You don’t look at the numbers in their absolute value any more,” he said. “Football has been for a long time out of normal society and the numbers are like the NBA in basketball, so it’s not comparable to normal life anymore.
“It was already out of context of society so, after, it just becomes a bit extra. You cannot calculate what it brings in anymore. It’s just a number. We still live with rationality. We are not the only ones. I think 99 percent of the clubs do that but, of course, we cannot compete at that level.
“Today, a player is worth what the club can afford to spend and I would say that the price of a player depends on the identity of the buyer. You cannot put it in the context of the market. It is the financial potential of the buyer that decides the price of the player.”

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Ronaldo after court appearance: I’ve never hidden anything

Cristiano Ronaldo said he “has never hidden anything” and told his advisers to always make sure he paid what he owed correctly and in time, in a statement released after the Real Madrid star spent 90 minutes answering to charges of a €14.7 million tax fraud in a Madrid court on Monday morning.
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Ronaldo after court appearance: I’ve never hidden anything

Cristiano Ronaldo said he “has never hidden anything” and told his advisers to always make sure he paid what he owed correctly and in time, in a statement released after the Real Madrid star spent 90 minutes answering to charges of a €14.7 million tax fraud in a Madrid court on Monday morning.
Prosecutors at Spain’s Hacienda tax agency have put together a case arguing that the Real Madrid forward, his advisers and agents at Gestifute routed image rights income through a network of companies to avoid paying the relevant taxes from 2011 to 2014.
Ronaldo, who has previously denied all the charges through his agents, arrived at the buildings of the Court of First Instance and Instruction No. 1 in Pozuelo de Alarcon, Madrid, around 11 a.m. local time and spent an hour-and-a-half in front of Judge Monica Gomez Ferrer.

No members of the media were permitted inside the court, and a plan for the Portugal captain to read a prepared statement afterward was shelved, with a Gestifute statement instead released almost two hours later.
Ronaldo said in the statement: “The Spanish tax service [Hacienda] knows the detail of all my income because we have given it to them. I have never hidden anything, nor did have I ever had the intention of evading taxes.
“I always do my tax declaration in a voluntary manner, as I think that we must all declare and pay taxes according to our income. Those who know me know that this is what I ask from my advisors — that they keep everything up to date, and correctly paid, as I do not want any problems.”
The Gestifute statement went on to say that the accusation by Hacienda prosecutors that a special company was created when Ronaldo joined Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2009 to keep his image rights income away from the Spanish tax authorities was untrue.
Hacienda investigators have also looked at the sale of Ronaldo’s image rights to Valencia owner Peter Lim in 2015. The statement denied there were any tax problems around this business decision.
“Since 2015 Cristiano Ronaldo has ceded his image rights to a third party, paying independently the taxes due,” it said. “He currently pays his taxes in Spain, and is one of the biggest individual contributors in the whole country.”
A court source told ESPN FC that Ronaldo had been “relaxed” as he entered the courtroom, but reports immediately afterward said his mood had changed during the 90-minute intervention.
Multiple reports in the Madrid media said Ronaldo had told the judge, “I am only here because I am called Cristiano Ronaldo.”
The Gestifute statement did not mention the reported exchange and added that Ronaldo would now be making no further public comment on the issue until the judge reaches her decision.
“Now is the moment to let justice do its work,” he said. “I believe in justice and I hope that, also in this case, there is a just decision. And with the goal of avoiding any unnecessary pressures or contributing to any kind of ‘parallel justice,’ I have decided that I will not make any more comments about this issue until the decision is made.”
Based on the evidence heard on Monday, Gomez Ferrer will then decide whether to take the case forward and set a trial date. If found guilty, Ronaldo could be ordered to pay back taxes and a fine — which could be as high as €50 million — and experts have said he risks a custodial sentence if he fails to comply.
Gestifute owner Jorge Mendes gave evidence in front of Gomez Ferrer in late June relating to a case involving former Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao, at which Mendes denied he or any of his staff have any role in tax affairs.
The image rights income of other Mendes clients — including Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and former Madrid players Fabio Coentrao, Pepe, Angel Di Maria and Ricardo Carvalho — have also been investigated by the Spanish authorities.
Ronaldo, on an extended break following the Confederations Cup earlier in the summer, did not appear for Madrid during their International Champions Cup games in the United States this summer.
Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane says Ronaldo is expected to join up with the squad on their return to Europe on Saturday. He is then unlikely to feature in the European Super Cup against Manchester United in Skopje on Aug. 8, or the Spanish Supercopa games against Barcelona on Aug. 13 and 16.

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