Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has revealed the club passed up on the chance to sign Kylian Mbappe in 2017 as the coaching staff preferred the playing style of Ousmane Dembele.
Bartomeu infamously resigned from his role as club president last year in disgrace amid the backdrop of a legal investigation, but his legacy with the fans had long been tarnished before that departure following some exceptionally questionable transfer activity.
In 2017 Barca were in search of reinforcements up front following the world record transfer of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for £198m, a fee that remains the highest ever paid for a player to this day, but that eye-watering fee was not put to good use by the club, the proceeding years have shown.
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Bartomeu has revealed the club were presented the opportunity to sign a then precocious up-and-comer in the guise of Mbappe from Monaco, but the club turned their attention to Dembele from Borussia Dortmund instead, with the former president indicating Ernesto Valverde made that decision.
According to Bartomeu, Valverde “preferred” the playing style of Dembele, who has since gone on to endure an injury-ridden existence at the Camp Nou following his £97m move four years ago, while Mbappe has continued to go from strength to strength in France.
“[Mbappe’s] signing was on the table, but the coaches preferred Dembele because they wanted a player to open the field,” Bartomeu said, as reported by AS.
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Speaking about the criticism levelled at him for the signings of Dembele, and Philippe Coutinho, Bartomeu added: “Some of the transfers we have done have not met expectations, players who have cost a lot of money, but these things happen in football.
“When those two players were signed, they were applauded by everyone. Coutinho came because Iniesta was going. He was the best in the Premier League. Dembele came because of Neymar’s departure.”