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Neymar Image Credit: Supplied

Madrid: Barcelona is suing Neymar for nearly $12 million (Dh44 million), the amount the club believes it overpaid the Brazilian during the time he played in Spain, a person with knowledge of the case said Wednesday.

The person said Barcelona overpaid Neymar to avoid possible tax irregularities while authorities investigated his transfer from Brazilian club Santos in 2013. Calculations recently concluded by tax authorities showed that the club didn't have to pay the 10 million euros ($11.8 million), so it is requesting that the player returns that amount.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorised to make public comments about the issue.

Neymar's representatives told the AP that they would not comment on the case.

Neymar played for Barcelona from 2013-17 before joining French club Paris Saint-Germain on a record transfer fee of 222 million euros ($262 million).

Neymar and Barcelona were accused by Spanish authorities of irregularities during the Brazilian's transfer to the Catalan club, including trying to hide the real amount that was paid to Santos at the time.

They all denied wrongdoing.

Spanish tax authorities said in September that Neymar owed 34.6 million euros ($40.8 million) in taxes from his time in Spain, the highest personal debt in the country last year.

Barcelona has been struggling financially this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It lowered player wages earlier in the year and has continued to negotiate salary adjustments to try to reduce costs.

The Catalan club also has been enduring an internal crisis since an embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, with Lionel Messi eventually asking to leave the club and president Josep Bartomeu and his board of directors resigning.

Messi stayed, but Bartomeu is gone.