‘Liverpool wanted €200m for Coutinho’

Barcelona claim they were not prepared to pay Liverpool’s “crazy” €200m asking price for Philippe Coutinho but insist Lionel Messi will sign on “soon”.

Speaking alongside technical secretary Robert Fernandez at a Press conference, director Albert Soler also suggested “we avoided jeopardising the club” over Coutinho, Barca did not see Neymar’s transfer to Paris Saint-Germain coming and that release clauses “were an added handicap” for Spanish sides.

“We’re used to a model in which the traditional clubs were the main players, but now countries and billionaires are the main players,” he explained.

“We managed to avoid jeopardising the club’s heritage and finances. We won’t play in this inflated market.

“Coutinho? Yesterday, after weeks of offers and talks, Liverpool valued a player we wanted at €200m. We decided against paying that crazy sum.

“Neymar? The fact he activated his clause unilaterally and left for €222m caused everyone to know that we had money.

“Self-criticism must always be carried out. It’s easy to talk in hindsight, but of course everything can be done better.

“Our managerial hierarchy hasn’t changed. Segura starts work as general manager today. There are no problems between him and Robert or anyone else.

“The rumours about Neymar started at the end of July. Both the President and I didn’t know he'd leave prior to that.

“I have a message that tells me PSG wanted Neymar on July 19. Luckily, WhatsApps have dates. It wasn’t in January or March but on July 19.

“Vote of no confidence? Club members are entitled to their opinions. What I’ll say is that stock should be taken at the end of the season, not two games in.

“Messi’s new contract? His announcement will come once the agreement is signed off by both parties. The only thing missing is this formal act of the signing-off.

“If Robert and I sat here and announced that we’d signed two players for €270m, we’d have crossed the line of irresponsibility and we'd have to resign.

“Barca haven’t lost any of their international prestige because we still have our values of common sense and responsibility.

“Our structure isn’t harmful & there’s no disparity. We work as a team, even if it’s very complex from an organisational point of view.

“Release clauses are an added handicap for Spanish clubs. We should all play with the same rules.

“When will Messi sign? Soon. When we say soon, it means soon, I want to send this message to those who may be worried.

“We immediately got to work once we learnt about Neymar going to PSG, but he’s a very, very, very difficult player to replace.

“The problem isn’t the €222m, it’s that Neymar is no longer with us. We’d like him to still be here. Whoever says otherwise is lying.”

Tags Albert Soler Lionel Messi Liverpool Neymar Paris Saint-Germain Philippe Coutinho PSG