It became a soap opera -- a very boring one. With thousands of new rumors every single minute. But finally, it is over. Jeremy Mathieu is a Blaugrana, FC Barcelona announced on Wednesday. Valencia also confirmed the news, adding in the statement:
"Valencia CF would like to thank Mathieu for his five years of professionalism, effort and passion in our club."
The 30-year-old defender comes in for a fee of €20 million, and will sign a four-year contract with Barça, with a fifth-year club option. His buyout clause is now increased, and any team who wants his services will now have to pay €50 million to take him out of the Catalans.
Mathieu wanted the transfer from the start, and went from holding six reported meetings asking for his exit to an open letter to Valencia's president begging for the move. Valencia made it clear that they would only talk if Barça agreed to pay his full buyout clause. After weeks of negotiation, both teams came to an agreement, and the French defender will finally join the Blaugrana.
Originally a left-back, he was converted to center-back last season, and didn't disappoint, showing his skills and versatility. That, along with his wealth of experience in international competition, is what ultimately attracted new manager Luis Enrique and the board and made them go after Mathieu. He is most likely to start with Piqué and form Barça's new center-back pairing for the future.
As for new defender acquisitions, don't expect much more. Many reports now claim that Andoni Zubizarreta and the board have decided to sign only one center-back, not two, as originally scripted, because of Javier Mascherano's ability to play in the defense when needed. Plus, Lucho wants to develop Marc Bartra, giving him more opportunities to produce.
Jeremy Mathieu is already in Catalunya and will be presented on Thursday, after doing his medicals and signing his contract.
With this deal, Barcelona's squad has now seven new faces. Marc-André Ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo as the goalkeepers, Mathieu for the defense, Ivan Rakitic and Rafinha for the midfield, and Luis Suárez and Gerard Deulofeu for the forward slots.
If these are all the signings Barça planned to do and they don't intend to buy anybody else, the Blaugrana have spent a total of €145 million in transfers for next season.