Bartomeu: Neymar leaving presents Barcelona with an opportunity

Bartomeu responded to SPORT's questions about Neymar's move to PSG

The Barça president says the squad is better this season that last season

Bartomeu, en el Camp Nou
Bartomeu, en el Camp Nou | VALENTÍ ENRICH

Do you feel deceived by Neymar? 
It distracted us too much. I would have preferred them to tell us before "we're going". We would have looked for a replacement in a normal market. The way of doing it wasn't right. 

Ernest Folch


Albert Masnou


They behaved poorly? 
Historically, Barça look for exits for players that want to leave (Cesc, Pedro, Alexis...) We don't stop players leaving. The same with Neymar, but we would have preferred to have Dembele at a better price. 

But you'd have preferred Neymar to stay?
Better to have the talent at the club. But you can't be too pessimistic. It's an opportunity for Barcelona to break the trident and to bet on collective play. We're coming off Luis Enrique's project and now there's Valverde. There's total confidence in him. He's a manager that believes in the Barça model and in players from La Masia. 

Why is Neymar leaving an opportunity?
To end the strength of the trident. It's been really good but it's had consequences. It's an opportunity to play a return to collective football in midfield, which is traditionally Barça's strength. 

Neymar was a problem? 
No, but his exit allows us to strengthen the model, to not fall back on the trident all the time. Plus, we've got money. We've earned 105 million and there's more to invest in football, in assets... Let's see what we do. It's an opportunity, with a new manager, a new project. We can't be pessimists. Let's stop being pessimistic! 

Does it worry you?
Internally there's no pessimism. People think Neymar's exit weakens the team. The opposit. We have to take advantage of this opportunity to strengthen the team. 

How did the players (according to Pique, at Messi's wedding) know Neymar was leaving first?
The rumour came out at the beginning of the tour. 

There's not much dialogue between the players and the club?
It's constant. 

In what moment was it irreversible?
In Miami it was really clear. To be self-critical, we believed for too long in the ambiguity of Neymar and his father. 

When was the last time you spoke with him?
On the plan to Miami. 

Was it an attempt to get him to stay?
I said: "Tell me what you're doing. We have to organise ourselves."

What's been learned from the Neymar case?
We have to increase the buyout clauses.

And the reaction it Demebele's set at 400 million? 
I'll explain it. There's an inflated transfer markey that doesn't come from football but from eslewhere. Our decision: increase the academy, the revenue and work with UEFA, FIFA and ECA so that Fair Play is applied with force and there's a limit on transfers. 

Limit on transfers? How? 
Something has to be done. It can't be the case that there's money that comes from football and put in the football industry.

Are you referring to Qatar?
Yes, and Abu Dhabi, two countries that have two clubs. If Bayern, United, Madrid or Arsenal buy a player, you know [the money] comes from football. But these two clubs distort the market. 

But this money before was on Barça's shirt. There weren't complaints then...
It was a sponsorship deal at market value. For example, two years ago, UEFA Reduced QTA's sponsorship of PSG to 200 million euros. We have to play with the same cards. 

By getting rid of clauses?
In Spain, you're obliged to have them. And that's a disadvantage. For example, Luis Suarez had it. It's not an obligation in England. His agent, very intelligently, put it in. Ter Stegen, too. It's voluntary. Not obligatory. In La Liga it's obligatory. 

But can you get rid of them?
It's impossible. It's a working matter. It's a demand made by the AFA (players' association) and a judge backed them. All of Europe should have clauses.  

Barça wanted Dembele last year but he went to Dortmund, why didn't he put a clause in his contract?
You'd have to ask his agent. The agent didn't put it in. Dembele didn't want to come and compete with Messi, Suarez and Neymar. "Where will I play if I'm young?" he said and he chose a team he could play at. 

Is it not a contradiction to complain about Neymar and PSG and then, on deadline day, go for Di Maria in a move which could have helped PSG's Fair Play concerns?
It wouldn't have reduced it because the offer from Barça was less than what he was worth to PSG as an asset.

And you knew that?
Of course. I knew what they'd paid for him, the time on his contract and what he was worth. Barça's offer was inferior to that. 

It seems illogical to try and sign from PSG after what's happened with Verratti and Di María and before them Silva, Marquinhos and David Luiz...
There are clubs that have one policy and others that have another. Here, the coaches ask for a player, we ask, try to negotiate and if they don't sell we go for another.  

For example, what's Valverde asked for?
He asked for Marlon to go out on loan and not because he doesn't rate him but because he does. He wanted him to play and come back in the future. The return of Deulofeu, Ortola as third goalkeeper as well as Barça B's No.1... Aleña' renewal.

Signing Paulinho and loaning Samper is not going against the model?
Samper's a player like Marlon. The manager felt he would play more on loan than here. It's in our interest that he plays because we count on him. Samper's had a good preseason. In his position, there wouldn't be many games for him and he needs to play at his age. It's not the first player we've done it with: Rafinha, Denis Suarez, Deulofeu...

The sqaud's better than last year?
It's better. Better on the right flank and in midfield. We can counter-attack and with Paulinho we've got a lot of strength. And up front we have players like Deulofeu and Dembele...


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