Saturday 21 October 2017

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu insists Neymar's move to PSG was a 'win-win' for the club

Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar leaves Spain's national court in Madrid on February 2, 2016. AFP PHOTO/ JAVIER SORIANO / AFP / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar leaves Spain's national court in Madrid on February 2, 2016. AFP PHOTO/ JAVIER SORIANO / AFP / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said the Catalan giants were in a win-win situation whether Neymar ended up staying or leaving the Nou Camp this summer and insisted "no player is bigger than the club".

Speaking publicly for the first time since Neymar quit Barca last week in a world-record 222 million euros (£200.6million) transfer to Paris St Germain, Bartomeu also said the Blaugrana would invest their windfall with "sense, rigour and calmness".

He said at the World Congress of FC Barcelona Supporters Clubs on Monday: "When doubts about him staying began, we were all calm because whatever his decision, it was good for Barca.

"If he remained, we kept an exceptional player. And if he left then the whole of his buyout clause would have to be paid, which gives us the money to guarantee that we can sign new and competitive players.

"Neymar has formed part of our club and of our success over the past four years, but he is now history.

"It's been his decision. We did everything in our hands to try and get him to stay - the directors, the players and the coaches.

"Everything has a limit and no player is bigger than Barca. No individual interests can take precedence over the interests of the club."

Bartomeu also confirmed Barca had passed details of Neymar's blockbusting transfer on to UEFA because "we are opposed to the artificial inflation of the football market and because we want to protect football and make it sustainable".

Neymar joined Barca from Santos in 2013 and helped the club win a host of honours, including two LaLiga titles and the Champions League, whilst forming the devastating 'MSN' strikeforce with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

However, the 25-year-old decided to seek pastures new and last Thursday became the most expensive player of all time after joining PSG on a five-year contract, which will reportedly see him earn 30m euros (£27m) net per year, or around 575,000 euros (£520,000) each week after tax.

Neymar - who was under contract until 2021 with Barca - has insisted it was ambition and not the lure of riches that convinced him to swap the Nou Camp for the Parc des Princes, but whatever the Brazilian's reasons, Bartomeu felt matters could have been conducted in a different fashion.

He said: "Neymar has taken the decision to go, but the way of doing so hasn't been the best, we would have liked more clarity on his part.

"They are not the ways of a player who defends our colours. Values are important for us."

Barca have been relatively quiet in the transfer market so far this summer, bringing in defender Nelson Semedo from Benfica and activating a buy-back clause that saw Gerard Deulofeu return from Everton.

However, they have been linked with a host of players, including Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele, and the unexpected departure of Neymar has left a sizeable hole in new coach Ernesto Valverde's side.

Bartomeu confirmed they are looking for reinforcements, but insisted they would do so with prudence.

He said: "What will we do with 222 million euros? It's the question everyone is asking.

"We'll administer the money with sense, rigour and calmness. We will act responsibly, knowing that we have the money to invest in the team, buying new players and expanding our assets.

"This year we will no longer be talking about the trident (Neymar, Messi and Suarez), we will be talking about team. We will bring in players. The first has been Semedo but evidently more will come."

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