The top soccer clubs in Europe are always looking for loopholes and ways to bend the rules in pursuit of success, domestic and continental. Barcelona, especially, is no exception to this, as they have a worse-by-the-minute reputation of tax evasion and youth player infractions–both things that they have been punished for. This latest ploy, by comparison, barely rates on the scandal meter, as the Catalan club is desperately trying to get its Brazilian star Neymar a Spanish passport.
La Liga rules state that each club is only allowed up to three non-EU players on their squad. With Luis Suarez, Marlon Santos, and Neymar currently on the team, Barca has met their quota, which would prevent them from getting much-needed reinforcements from anywhere outside of the EU.
But what about Lionel Messi, you may ask? Despite being from Argentina, Messi counts as a Spanish citizen, after receiving his dual citizenship in 2005. It’s that same trick that Barcelona now want to pull off for Neymar. Immigrants from most countries have to live in Spain for five years before they can apply for a passport, but those from Latin American countries can apply for dual citizenship after four years. Neymar moved to Barcelona in the summer of 2013, which means that he’ll meet the qualifications in the coming months.
This issue is more pressing this summer due to the combination of Marlon Santos’ promotion to the first-team and the return of 26-year-old Brazilian defender Douglas, who was on loan at Sporting Gijón last season. While the club could choose to move the disappointing Douglas to avoid complications, it seems likely that Barcelona will look all around the world for reinforcements as they look to take back La Liga and the Champions League from Real Madrid. That’s why they’re pushing Neymar’s paperwork through as a priority this summer.
When he’s not being hurried into dual citizenship, the 25-year-old Neymar has been all over the news lately. After being named the 6th most famous athlete in the world by ESPN, Neymar made an appearance at game 2 of the NBA finals, trading jerseys with Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant. He also hopped on his already-fire Instagram to challenge fellow Brazil teammates such as Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus to the “White Wall Challenge,” whatever that means. Busy summer for Barca’s number 11, and it’s only June.