Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has insisted the club will not pursue Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar this summer, with the plan being to negotiate a deal for Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.
Neymar has been heavily linked with a return to Camp Nou alongside Griezmann, although a deal for the latter is thought to be far more likely.
Speaking to the press (via the Daily Mail) ahead of presenting new signing Frenkie de Jong at Camp Nou, Bartomeu insisted PSG are not prepared to sell Neymar this summer, so a deal is unlikely to happen.
He said: “We know that he wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain but we know that they don’t want him to leave, so there is no case [to answer].
“I know what I have read in the press. We have contact with Nasser [Al Khelafi] in meetings and committees but he has not told us himself. What we know about Neymar we know from the press.”
When Neymar left Camp Nou in 2017, Ousmane Dembele was brought in as his replacement, and Bartomeu insisted the Frenchman is a better player than Neymar.
“I still think that [Dembele is better]. He’s young and very talented. He has a lot of room to grow and we want him to do it here at Barça. He is the cornerstone of our project and our future watching him play is a pleasure,” he added.
One transfer which does appear likely is a move for Griezmann, with Bartomeu confirming that club officials have met with Atletico to try strike a deal.
He added: [On Thursday] Oscar Grau met with [Atletico CEO Miguel Angel] Gil Marin in Madrid to see if it was possible to negotiate. We ask them if it were possible to negotiate a transfer. This one [on Thursday] was the first meeting.”
Atleti have since released a statement of their own regarding Griezmann’s future following Bartomeu’s comments.
Finally, Bartomeu confirmed (via Barcelona’s Twitter page) that he will assume the responsibilities of former sporting vice-president Jordi Mestre, who recently resigned from his position after clashing with club officials.
“I am personally taking on the role of Sporting Vice-President. I understand Jordi Mestre’s reasons for leaving the post,” Bartomeu said.