FC Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre said that Neymar’s behaviour prior to his switch to Paris St-Germain is the reason for football’s inflated transfer fees.
Mestre reportedly claimed that Brazil forward, 25, played “cat and mouse” with the Catalan club before his exit in August, when PSG paid 220m euros for Neymar, making him the most expensive player in history.
“We would have saved a lot of money and a lot of media noise,” Mestre added. “What hurt me the most was the way it happened.”
“If he came to us and said, ‘I want to go’, we would have reached an agreement. What you can’t do is rock the boat. He told us nothing. If he had done, PSG would have been able to buy him for less money and it would have cost us less to sign players too.”
Before Neymar’s parting of ways from Barca, he had signed a new five-year new deal with the club in July 2016, which included a 8.5m euro renewal bonus, and added at the time of his move to PSG that he had “followed his heart”.
“The decision was difficult to take,” the Olympic gold winner added. “I didn’t come for the money. I came for the motivation and the challenge.”
Since Neymar’s departure, Barcelona have spent £142m on signing Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool, having brought in Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund for an initial £97m, which could rise to £136m.
Following Neymar’s departure, Barcelona said they would withhold a further 26m euro (£23m) loyalty bonus, with FIFA currently investigating following an official complaint from Neymar regarding the issue.
“It arrived at a point where we saw where things were going, so we told him we would not pay his contract renewal loyalty fee,” said Mestre.