FC Barcelona is working on a big name signing “in secret,” according to a journalist from Diario SPORT. Toni Juanmarti did not name the supposed big signing, but he suggested it many not be who you think of: “while other names are being leaked, a great operation led by Éric Abidal gets closer.”
Abidal is Barcelona’s new sporting director, and his involvement provides, perhaps, the biggest hint about who this mystery signing could be.
“The club knows that Real Madrid will strengthen and they are thinking about answering [their president, Florentino Pérez],” Juanmarti wrote. “Paulinho’s exit leaves space for a first-class midfielder. And with first-class cost, too.”
So let’s see here. From the hints we know this is a big name, a midfielder, one that has not been mentioned much before, and one that might have a link with Abidal.
It’s not just that Abidal and Pogba are both French, it’s that they have a personal relationship.
And even more importantly, Abidal claimed to have Pogba ready to come to the Camp Nou in 2015. Joan Laporta was running for president, and he would have named Abidal his sporting director. Laporta promised Pogba’s arrival to Barcelona, should he win the presidential election. Instead, Josep Maria Bartomeu won, so that never came to pass.
“It would be really good to have Pogba,” said Abidal in 2015. “I have had a relationship [with Pogba] for many years, we exchange messages and work on projects and ideas,” he continued, “If Jan wins, we will make the move.”
Mino Raiola, Pogba’s agent, was reportedly at the club’s offices in Barcelona on the 10th. Fernando Polo wrote in Mundo Deportivo that Raiola had told Barcelona that Pogba would be “delighted” to leave Manchester United.
Polo went on to write that the biggest problem was financial, and if his price were to come down, the move could be completed. “But,” he concluded, “it doesn’t seem it will be the case.”
Which brings us back to the “mystery player.” See if you spot the similarity with the last quote from Juanmarti: “The problem now is the price. There is a will from the player to come but between the clubs there is a difference of 50 million. Irreconcilable? We shall see.”