Eric Abidal, Barcelona’s technical secretary until last summer, has revealed that Barcelona could have signed Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain if they had not signed Antoine Griezmann from Atlético Madrid.
The former defender told The Telegraph: “Ten days before the end of the transfer window, I went to Paris to talk with Leonardo [PSG’s sporting director] and I was with my CEO, and we were talking about Neymar.
“I think if the CEO goes to Paris Saint-Germain, it’s because we can sign him. If we didn’t sign Griezmann before, I think 100 per cent we could have re-signed Neymar because what we needed was a winger and when Neymar was in Barcelona he was amazing.”
Barcelona paid Griezmann’s €120 million buy-out clause in July 2019, and the rest of the summer followed with rumors that Neymar could also join. But it seems that, having already paid a three figure fee for a forward, Barcelona’s board would not elevate their bid for the Brazilian to satisfy the Parisians.
Abidal says he was of the opinion that the Catalans should have opted for Neymar over Griezmann, because of the different positions they play.
“This is not about which player is better, it was what I thought was the position we needed at the time. The team needed a real winger. The president decided to sign Griezmann,” he said.
“One of the arguments against Neymar was that he had a court case against the club, so it’s not easy. They said he would have to stop the court process if he wanted to come back. That wasn’t my problem because I was not at the club when that dispute happened. In my view, I could sign the player, but it didn’t happen.”
Abidal has also revealed that he wanted to bring Mauricio Pochettino, who now manages PSG, to coach Barcelona after the sacking of Ernesto Valverde last year.
“On my list was Mauricio Pochettino, Quique Setién, Max Allegri and Xavi Hernández. Quique was appointed, but my first option was Pochettino.”
“I told the board ‘I have to bring the best coach we can in the market. I’m not here for politics because he was before in Espanyol’.
“For me, it’s not politics. I wanted the best and Pochettino is one of the best in our game. He reached the Champions League final with Tottenham, you have to respect this, he has a good philosophy of playing, a good philosophy of training, players love him and I think he would be a better coach now for this situation, but with a real project.”