Barcelona neither wanted, nor could afford, a repeat of ‘The Antoine Griezmann case’.
For anyone who missed it last year, the Atletico Madrid striker had heavily hyped up a television show on which he would make an announcement regarding his future.
What followed was humiliation for the current La Liga champions, who were convinced a deal was done, only for it to be revealed that he would be staying in Madrid .
The club felt cheated by the Frenchman, just as they had felt cheated a year prior following Neymar’s transfer to Paris Saint-Germain – a move that happened just months after the Brazilian signed a renewal at Camp Nou.
In addition to that perceived affront by the French champions, PSG had already denied Barcelona even the possibility of opening talks with long-time targets Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, and followed up the Blaugrana’s interest in Marco Verratti by poaching their €222 million Brazilian striking superstar.
As previously published by Goal and contrary to what the clubs tell the public, Neymar has been in touch with Barca regarding a return and those in Catalunya are equally keen to bring back the man who was earmarked as Lionel Messi’s successor at the club.
As one could imagine, things are far from rosy between the two sides at the moment. Indeed, both teams once again chased the same player in Ajax’s Frenkie de Jong.
Between the Griezmann incident and the so-called financial bullying of the French side, president Josep Maria Bartomeu went all-in to ensure Barca got their man this time, taking personal charge of making sure a deal for De Jong happened.
On Thursday, the transfer was confirmed. De Jong will arrive at Camp Nou this summer with the initial transfer fee being €75m, plus a further €11m in variables. De Jong’s contract will last until 2024 and he will earn in the region of €16m a season.
The biggest winners in the whole scenario are, of course, the player himself and Ajax, who will recoup far more than they expected after a successful bidding war that also included Manchester City and Juventus.
The numbers might seem outlandish (or not, given the way the market has gone in the past few years) but Bartomeu needed a win away from the pitch.
Landing the 21-year-old De Jong represents not only a sound investment for the future, but also sends a spiteful message to a team whom Barca feel have done them wrong.