One of the worst kept secrets of the summer was Antoine Griezmann’s move to Barcelona and like many of the Catalan club’s recent big transfers, this too was full of controversy. So, take a look at five such transfers by Barcelona which was done in poor taste.
On July 23 in 2018, Roma agreed on a fee with Bordeaux for Malcom and the player was due to fly to Rome the same night for his medical. However, in the eleventh hour, Barcelona entered the fray and offered Bordeaux more money than Roma. The Ligue 1 side stopped the Brazilian from flying out and instead, he flew to Barcelona to complete his transfer.
Barcelona’s aggressive approach angered Roma’s then sporting director Monchi and he stated that Roma would consider taking legal actions against Barcelona. The Catalan club apologized to Roma but Roma rejected it and Monchi made a counter statement.
“Barcelona apologized about their actions and how they did things, I don’t accept the apology at all. The only way I’ll accept Barca’s apology is if they send the player to us, and that’s not going to happen. Maybe, as a goodwill gesture, the very least they could do is send us Messi.”
Despite all the hassle to sign Malcom, he rarely featured for Barcelona last season and could be on his way out of the club this summer.
#4. Philippe Coutinho
In the summer of 2017, Barcelona lost Neymar to PSG and they needed quality players to fill that void. One of their targets was Philippe Coutinho but Liverpool were not keen on selling one of their best players.
Coutinho was also keen on a move and he submitted a transfer request to force a move. However, Liverpool released an official statement citing that the player is not for sale. The player had completed the preseason with Liverpool but he went on strike and missed the start of the season to try and force a move.
Liverpool stood firm and rejected multiple offers from Barcelona during the summer transfer window. During the entire transfer saga, many personalities related to Barcelona spoke publicly about the player much to the anger of the Liverpool fans.
For instance, former Liverpool player Luis Suarez said: “Both Griezmann and Coutinho are elite players that are playing at the top level. They are where they are for a reason. They’re both young and have long careers ahead of them. And Barca always wants the best players.”
Coutinho’s compatriot and then Barcelona player, Paulinho said: “I want him to come, I think it would be a great contract for Barca. It would be great happiness for me because we would have another great player and another Brazilian.”
The player eventually moved to Barcelona in January 2018 for a club record transfer and Liverpool reinvested that money wisely. As for Coutinho, his dream move hasn’t gone well.
#3. Ousmane Dembele
Barcelona failed with their pursuit of Coutinho in the 2017 summer but they signed Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund that summer as Neymar’s replacement in controversial circumstances.
The Catalan club’s intention to sign Dembele was no secret but Dortmund denied the player permission to speak to Barcelona and as a result, Dembele skipped training and traveled to Spain to try and force a move. Dortmund retaliated by suspending the player indefinitely and also rejected a €100 million offer.
Dortmund later changed their stance but only allowed the transfer to go through for a fee of €105 million plus a reported €40 million add-ons. After the move was done, Dembele spoke about his actions that angered the Bundesliga club.
“I decided to stop going to training. I didn’t want to go. I looked for an excuse not to go. If it didn’t work out and I hadn’t done my part to get the move to Barça, now I would be lamenting the fact I wasn’t here. I was really nervous, although I could rest at night. I just wanted it to go through as quickly as possible.”
Neymar has had two transfers in his career and both have been full of controversy. However, when Barcelona completed a move for him in 2013, there wasn’t any ruckus.
In January 2014, a prosecutor’s office in Madrid investigated the transfer fee paid for Neymar and found contradictory information. A few days later, on January 23, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell resigned and the very next day it was revealed that the transfer fee was close to €100m as opposed to the earlier reported €57.1m.
Apparently, Neymar’s parents received €40m from Barcelona and as a result, Barcelona was charged with tax fraud. In addition, Neymar’s former club, Santos filed a complaint with FIFA seeking compensation for a breach of contract in Neymar’s transfer.
#1. Antoine Griezmann
The most recent entry to Barcelona’s list of high-profile controversial transfers.
It is no secret that Barcelona attempted to sign Griezmann in the summer of 2018 only for the player to stay put but after a disappointing season with Atletico, Griezmann handed in a transfer request which Atletico confirmed before the end of the 2018/19 season.
Griezmann’s release clause went down from €200m to €120m on 1 July and on 12 July, Barcelona paid €120m to confirm the transfer. However, later that day, Atletico disputed the deal and stated that the fee paid by Barcelona is €80m short of his release clause.
According to Atletico, the player had an agreement in place with Barcelona before his release clause was lowered and they stated that they have “started the procedures it considers appropriate for the defense of its legitimate rights and interests”.
There’s a good chance that we haven’t heard the last of the Griezmann to Barcelona saga.