August 3, 2021

SportsOnly

Football and other sports news

Barcelona chose to sign Griezmann instead of Neymar, claims Eric Abidal

2 min read

The future of Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain has been in the spotlight ever since he moved to the French capital with a return to Barcelona often suggested.

Now, the Blaugrana’s former sporting director Eric Abidal has claimed that the club would have re-signed the Brazilian in the summer of 2019 but the board instead decided upon signing Antoine Griezmann.

The Frenchman arrived in a landmark deal from Atletico Madrid in a year when the Catalan giants were once again strongly linked with a move for Neymar, who had left them two years prior.

Abidal claims he is certain that Neymar could have been signed that summer and the Parisians were open to a sale, but the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu instead opted to move for Griezmann.

“Ten days before the end of the transfer window, I went to Paris to talk with Leonardo (PSG’s sporting director) and I was with my CEO, and we were talking about Neymar,” Abidal told The Telegraph.

“I think if the CEO goes to Paris Saint-Germain, it’s because we can sign him. If we didn’t sign Griezmann before, I think 100 per cent we could have resigned Neymar because what we needed was a winger and when Neymar was at Barcelona he was amazing.

“This is not about which player is better, it was what I thought was the position we needed at the time. The team needed a real winger. The president decided to sign Griezmann.”

A move for Neymar was complicated by the club being involved in a court battle against the player, following the fallout of his exit in 2017.

As outlined by ESPN in June, the court dispute had centred around Neymar claimed that the Blaugrana owed him an unpaid bonus of €43m following the last contract he signed with the club in 2016, but the club won the case and the court decided Neymar owed them €6.7m.

“One of the arguments against Neymar was that he had a court case against the club, so it’s not easy,” added Abidal.

“They said he would have to stop the court process if he wanted to come back. That wasn’t my problem because I was not at the club when that dispute happened. In my view, I could sign the player, but it didn’t happen.”

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