Barcelona director Albert Soler says Neymar leaving was the cause of the club’s difficulties this summer, as they closed the transfer window with a disgraeful inability to sign Philippe Coutinho and Angel Di Maria.
The director was forced to explain why so many things have gone wrong for the club since the end of last season.
“On July 19 I received a WhatsApp [message] saying that PSG wanted Neymar,” he said. “Once we had knowledge that PSG were in talks with Neymar, we got to work. Neymar is difficult to replace. The problem is not just the €222m, the problem is Neymar’s no longer with us. His departure affected us on a sporting level and then with the negotiations which followed.
“The fact that Neymar paid his buyout clause and we had €222m meant everyone knew we had that money. We have tried to manage it with the sporting needs we had, that’s always the priority, but there are lines we can’t cross.
“If Robert and I came out here and told you we’d signed two players for €270m, we would have crossed the line of responsibility and then we would have had to resign.”
Robert, meanwhile, made it clear there was interest in Verratti, Martinez and Seri, but said he was glad with the signings the club have made this summer — Gerard Deulofeu, Nelson Semedo, Paulinho and Ousmane Dembele.
“We have great players in the squad and we don’t think we’ve failed with the new signings, we don’t have any doubts about them,” he said. “We are satisfied in that sense.
“We have an excellent team and the signings add a lot. We’ve been planning our business for a long time. I spoke with [coach Ernesto Valverde] about where we should improve to compete and we’ve chosen players at a great level who can help us.”