Dembele

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu reveals the club had the chance to sign Kylian Mbappe in 2017 – but decided to sign Ousmane Dembele instead.

Bartomeu, who resigned in disgrace last year after being ousted from the club amid a legal investigation, has blamed the coaching staff for recommending Dembele because they thought he would do a better job of ‘opening up the pitch’.

Barcelona forked out £124million to sign Dembele from Borussia Dortmund four years ago but the Frenchman has suffered countless injuries while Kylian Mbappe has gone on the become one of the world’s best at PSG.

And while Mbappe’s potential was there for all to see, Bartomeu insists it wasn’t his decision to sign the injury-prone winger, who is proving to be one of the club’s worst-ever signings.

‘[Mbappe’s] signing was on the table, but the coaches preferred Dembele because they wanted a player to open the field,’ Bartomeu said on Esport3, as reported by AS.

Dembele’s big-money move wasn’t the only deal that went up in smoke during Bartomeu’s reign as president that left the club in financial ruin.

Philippe Coutinho’s £145m move from Liverpool has also failed to live up to expectation, with the Brazilian struggling to find his feet at the club after three years at the Nou Camp.

And while Bartomeu acknowlegdes that the costly transfers haven’t worked out, the 58-year-old has explained his reasons for signing them.

‘Some of the transfers we have done have not met expectations, players who have cost a lot of money, but these things happen in football,’ Bartomeu added.

‘When those two players were signed, they were applauded by everyone. Coutinho came because Iniesta was going. He was the best in the Premier League. Dembele came because of Neymar’s departure.’

Dembele is currently out injured with a hamstring injury that he picked up at Euro 2020 with France.

While he has since returned to training, no date has been set for when he can return to the pitch.

Mbappe, on the other hand, has enjoyed a fine start to the campaign, scoring five goals and setting up another six for his PSG team-mates across 12 games.

Mbappe, like Dembele, have entered the final year of their current deals and will be free to leave next summer if they fail to sign new contracts.

Real Madrid tried to sign Mbappe in the summer transfer window but will now have to wait until the end of the season but completing a deal for the Frenchman.

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