Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has promised to spend the €222m (£200m, $262m) recouped from Neymar’s sale wisely amid reports linking the Catalans with a triple swoop for Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, Borussia Dortmund winger Ousmane Dembele and Real Sociedad centre-back Inigo Martinez.
Mundo Deportivo and other Spanish publications reported on weekend that Barcelona have already agreed terms with the three targets and are now confident of convincing their clubs to cash in on with offers worth around €100m, €90m and €32m respectively – totalling the €222m fee paid by Paris Saint-Germain to lure Neymar to the Ligue 1 side in a world record transfer.
Bartomeu has failed to disclose the details of the negotiations but did confirm that the club are working to bring new players.
“The 222 million euros we will spend sensibly, strictly and wisely. It will be used to improve the club and with this it means that we are in a great position to sign players,” Bartomeu said in meeting of Barcelona fans on Monday (7 August).
This year there will not be a trident but we can now talk about a team. We will bring in players, the first has been [Nelson] Semedo but there will be more.”
Bartomeu suggested that Barcelona have eventually been planning for life without the Brazilian ace since agreeing a new deal with him last summer
Neymar was already linked with Manchester United, Real Madrid and PSG themselves last summer before deciding to sign a new five-year deal until 2021, with the club increasing his release clause to €200m for the first year of his contract, €222m for the second and €250m for the remaining three.
“We thought there was a chance that Neymar could go and for that reason we raised his buy-out clause,” Bartomeu admitted. “Now we are looking for alternatives and whatever happened here it is in the end good for Barca because if he stayed then we have a great player and if he goes then we bring in a lot of money.”
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The club chief has also questioned Neymar’s attitude during his attempts to force his exit from the Nou Camp, and confirmed that Barcelona have reported the transfer to Uefa amid suggestions that PSG could have broken the financial fair rules to sign the 25-year-old.
“Neymar is now history and he wanted to go. He could have been clearer before and the way things were done was not right,” Bartomeu added. “There are ways to do things, no one can be bigger than the club and we have reported the move to UEFA.”
“We are a club with 118 years of history, great players, over 140,000 members, it is ours… the members and not owned by a sheikh or an oligarch. The loyalty shown by Leo Messi or Andres Iniesta should be an example. Leo Messi continues to be the leader of this side.”