Cashless and clueless: Barcelona failed to bring in a whole TEAM of transfers under hapless chief Josep Bartomeu… including a swoop for Neymar, a big-money move for Lautaro Martinez and even a bargain £25m deal for Memphis Depay
- Josep Bartomeu’s reign as Barcelona president could soon be coming to an end
- He and the club’s board are facing a vote of no confidence after years of misery
- A lack of finances and mismanagement have led for calls of mutiny among fans
- Under his stewardship, Bartomeu has struggled to bring in a number of big stars
- Neymar’s return fell through while a bargain deal for Depay never materialised
The end is nigh for Josep Maria Bartomeu and his reign at the Nou Camp as he and the Barcelona board will face a vote of no confidence.
It was announced on Thursday that the club validated 16,521 signatures that were needed to force a referendum, which would likely see the hapless chief sent packing following years of controversy and a lack of ambition.
The vote for a referendum comes as no surprise to the Barcelona faithful, who have been left dismayed by Bartomeu’s stewardship.
Josep Maria Bartomeu’s reign as Barcelona president could soon be coming to an end
Bartomeu has also managed to alienate himself from the Catalan fanbase following Lionel Messi’s contract saga earlier this summer.
But while Messi agreed to stay for one more season and not take his contract dispute to court, supporters’ misery was compounded after the club struggled to bring in a number of big-name targets while a number of established first-team players left.
In recent years, it has become a common trend for Barcelona – one of the biggest clubs in the world – to struggle to bring in new stars whether it’s down to a lack of finances or because of the ongoing turmoil that casts a shadow over the Nou Camp.
But which players have Barcelona missed out on during Bartomeu’s reign and why? Here, Sportsmail takes a look at ten outfield players that the Spanish giants failed to recruit.
Bartomeu was seen as the enemy in Lionel Messi’s contract saga earlier this summer
In 2017, then-Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde was keen to strengthen his backline with the addition of Athletic Bilbao defender Inigo Martinez – who was still at Real Sociedad.
The Catalan giants had agreed a five-year deal for Martinez but then the move was blocked by La Real president Jokin Apperibay.
Martinez accused Apperibay of not sticking to his word and letting him join Barcelona before he was sold to Bilbao in January 2018 instead.
While Bartomeu can’t take the blame for the transfer falling through, it will be remembered as another great defender who has slipped through the cracks.
In 2017, Barcelona were keen on bringing defender Inigo Martinez to the Nou Camp
MATTHIJS DE LIGT
In 2019, Matthijs de Ligt became the most sought-after defender in world football as he nearly guided Ajax to a Champions League final alongside the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek.
At 20 years old, the 2018 Golden Boy winner was deemed the perfect fit for Barcelona’s system given that he was good with his feet, powerful and possessed brilliant leadership qualities at such a young age.
This saw Barcelona go head to head with Juventus for the Dutchman but it was the Old Lady who would win the race for his signature.
And while he’s endured a slower start than expected in Turin, de Ligt revealed he turned down Barcelona to become a ‘more complete player’ at Juventus.
Juventus beat Barcelona in the race to land the highly-rated Matthijs de Ligt in 2019
The Manchester City centre back has made it no secret of his desire to return to Barcelona, having risen through the ranks at the club’s famed La Masia academy.
Garcia, who is in the final year of his deal at City, was desperate to make a move happen this summer but the transfer never materialised.
The 19-year-old has also refused to sign a new contract at the Etihad and even offered to take a pay cut, with the Spaniard eager to made a return a reality.
While Garcia is expected to re-join the club on a free once his contract at City expires, he becomes yet another defender that Bartomeu has failed to bring in during his reign.
Manchester City defender Eric Garcia was hoping to return to Barcelona this summer
Another promising talent that decide to pick Juventus over Barcelona was Adrien Rabiot.
The French midfielder looked certain to complete a move to the Nou Camp in the summer of 2019, having agreed to a move just months before as he ran down his contract at Paris Saint-Germain.
However, reports in Spain claim his move to Catalonia fell through because they refused to meet a number of Rabiot’s demands.
Rabiot reportedly didn’t want to play in the No 6 role and preferred a position higher up the pitch, while talks with his agent, and mother, Veronique, suggested that they tried upping his signing-on fee.
Adrien Rabiot was linked with a switch to the Nou Camp but the move fell through
And speaking of failed moves for PSG players, Marco Verratti becomes the second player of three on this list to not make the switch to Barca.
In 2016, Barcelona had reportedly lined up a big-money move for the Italian as they looked for Xavi’s successor in the heart of midfield.
And the Spanish outfit were offering Verratti a huge salary to join but the midfielder ended up staying put despite the vast amount of money that was put on the table.
Marco Verratti is another Paris Saint-Germain player that was on Barcelona’s radar
Before joining Arsenal on a free transfer earlier this summer, Willian was embroiled in a will-he-won’t-he transfer saga with Barcelona, who were keen to bring the 31-year-old to LaLiga on high wages.
Bartomeu reportedly offered Chelsea £50million back in 2018 for the winger before reviving interest in him back in January.
This time the offer was reportedly £20m but saw their bid rebuffed by the Blues, leaving the Catalans to withdraw their interest.
Barcelona reportedly offered Chelsea £50million for Willian back in 2018
The most high-profile name on the list, and the third PSG player to be denied a move to Barca – Neymar’s long-awaited return looked to be on the cards this summer after Messi urged the club’s hierarchy to do everything in their power to get his Brazilian friend back.
And with Messi behind the move, it did at one point appear as if the Argentine would get his wish.
Neymar completed a £198million move to PSG in 2017 which saw Barcelona invest a lot of that in big-money moves for Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, with both failing to live up to respective expensive price tags.
In the years since leaving Barcelona, Neymar has continuously been linked with a return to Spain with Real Madrid also keen on the winger.
However, the French champions refused to sell their prized asset which set the wheels in motion for Messi’s attempts to leave the club.
PSG superstar Neymar has been linked with a big-money move back to Barcelona
With Luis Suarez destined for the exit, Barcelona were desperate to find his replacement as early as last year.
Come this January’s winter window, Barca chiefs had identified Valencia’s Spanish striker Rodrigo as his successor but were unable to agree on a price for the 29-year-old.
Valencia were reportedly demanding £50m for him which proved to be too much.
Seven months and £35m later, Rodrigo finds himself at Elland Road as the newly-promoted Leeds stole a march on the Catalan giants.
Barcelona wanted Rodrigo as cover for Luis Suarez but the forward instead went to Leeds
Memphis Depay has managed to revive his career at Lyon following a nightmare spell at Manchester United.
So much so, the Dutchman’s stock has once again risen which saw Barcelona register their interest in this summer’s transfer window.
However, Bartomeu let negotiations go down to the wire for Depay with Lyon prepared to sell their skipper for as little as £25m.
A move largely depended on shipping out the injury-prone Dembele, which, at one point, looked as if he would be heading to Old Trafford.
There were also reports that the Catalan club were unable to afford the fee due to financial complications linked to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving fans frustrated in the market once again.
Memphis Depay was on the verge of completing a £25million move to Barcelona this summer
Barcelona made Lautaro Martinez their No 1 transfer target earlier this year after announcing himself on the world’s stage with Inter Milan.
While Neymar’s return seemed impractical, it was believed that a move for the Argentine would happen with the Catalan club viewing Martinez as Suarez’s long-term successor at striker.
However, his £90m price tag proved to be too much for Bartomeu who ended up conceding defeat in their pursuit of the forward.
Martinez’s contract at Inter is due to expire in 2023, but it seems likely that the striker will now agree new terms with the club making a future move to Barcelona that little bit more expensive.
Barcelona made Inter Milan star Lautaro Martinez their No 1 transfer target earlier this year
Former Barcelona great and Al Sadd boss Xavi has been linked with a fairytale return to the Nou Camp with many fans hoping the legendary midfielder could turn things around.
Xavi was lined up as one of the men to replace Quique Setien, who endured a difficult spell as boss.
Setien was promptly sacked after allowing Real Madrid to overtake them in the race to win LaLiga before he suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Bartomeu hinted that Xavi would return ‘sooner or later’ but it appears that the club’s ongoing crisis under hiss reign was enough to put Xavi off from making a return.
‘There’s a lot of external noise around the club, a lot of issues off the pitch and I don’t think now is the right time,’ Xavi told Icon magazine in August.
Xavi signed a new deal with the Qatari outfit earlier this summer and following Ronald Koeman’s appointment as boss, his return looks a long way off.
Supporters were hoping their legendary midfielder Xavi would return as manager this summer
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