MADRID, Sept 7 — Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu yesterday said Neymar “did everything” to force through a return to the Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain in the close season, but his club could “not meet” the French champions’ demands.
The long-running transfer saga ended earlier this week with Neymar staying at PSG, who paid Barcelona a world-record €222 million (RM1 billion) for the Brazilian in 2017.
“Neymar did everything possible because it was what he wanted,” Bartomeu told Barca’s in-house television channel.
“I think now he has another strategy, another project and this season he will play for PSG.”
His former club could not complete a deal to rescue the 27-year-old from his apparent nightmare in Paris, with Neymar so determined to return that sports daily L’Equipe reported he offered to pay €20 million from his own pocket towards the fee.
It was reported Barca offered several of their players, including Ivan Rakitic and Ousmane Dembele, as makeweights in a possible deal, but Bartomeu said it was not the case.
“Barca had already planned their squad, but the opportunity to sign Neymar was one that came up in the market,” he said. “His signing was an extra — it wasn’t planned.
“Barca never offered our players. It was PSG who asked for them in the negotiations.
“The deal didn’t go through because the club could not meet PSG’s demands.”
Since moving to the Parc des Princes, Neymar has appeared in barely half of his club’s matches due to suspensions and injuries.
Despite scoring 51 goals in 58 games in all competitions, Neymar has failed to inspire PSG to Champions League glory, with the capital club falling in the last 16 to Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively in his two seasons in France. — AFP