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Santos denies knowledge of Neymar deal with Barcelona in 2011; may seek legal advice

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SAO PAULO - Brazilian club Santos was never told about a 2011 payment from Barcelona to Neymar's father to guarantee the rights to sign the talented youngster, its president said Wednesday.

Odilio Rodrigues said the club authorized the player to negotiate with other teams, but nobody ever informed Santos that a deal with Barcelona was reached at the time.

Rodrigues made the comments a day after Neymar's father, who is also the player's agent, said Santos was aware the Spanish club paid his company 10 million euros ($13.3 million) to have the right to sign Neymar.

Another 30 million euros ($41 million) were paid directly to Neymar father's company after the deal was finalized last year.

Santos was paid about 17 million euros ($23 million) in the transfer, but Rodrigues said the club now will try to determine whether it also deserves part of the money given to Neymar and his father. He didn't dismiss legal action against Barcelona and Neymar.

"I always asked Neymar's father if he had received anything from Barcelona and he always denied it," Rodrigues said during a news conference in the coastal city of Santos. "When I was in contact with (former Barcelona president) Sandro Rosell, he also always denied it."

Rosell last week resigned amid allegations he hid the real cost of the deal in false contracts. Brazilian prosecutors said Wednesday they will also investigate whether there were any tax irregularities on the part of the Neymar family in Brazil.

Neymar's father had previously denied to the media that the player received any money from Barcelona before last year's deal was sealed.

He said Tuesday that despite the advanced payment in 2011, Barcelona did not break FIFA rules that prevent teams from luring players under contract with other clubs. He released a document where Santos authorized Neymar to talk to other teams as long as the transfer didn't happen before 2014.

The 2011 deal came just before Barcelona and Santos faced each other in the final of FIFA's Club World Cup that year. Neymar was not a factor in the match and Barcelona won 4-0.

Barcelona said it spent a total of 57 million euros ($78 million) on Neymar. The salary for the 21-year-old striker is 56.7 million euros ($77.5 million) over five years, the club said last week when it offered details on the contract after a Spanish judge agreed to hear a lawsuit brought by a club member alleging irregularities.

Touted as Brazil's biggest star and the player in charge of leading the five-time world champions at the World Cup at home, Neymar rejected a 35 million-euro offer from Chelsea in 2010, and several other teams reportedly tried to sign the young striker after that, including Barcelona rival Real Madrid.

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Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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