Barcelona’s sorry summer so far: a tragic timeline of despair
June 8: Hector Bellerin goes public to snub Barça
It was reported in early June that Bellerin and Barcelona were ready to make a deal. Bellerin, a Barcelona youth product, is – despite some dips in form at Arsenal – a highly promising right-back.
The young Spaniard would have filled a role Barça needed covering: last season, Sergi Roberto was playing out of position as a stop-gap, while Aleix Vidal was unable to contribute consistently amid injury and fall-outs with Luis Enrique.
Shortly after those reports, Bellerin took to Twitter:
Don't believe everything you read...
— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) June 8, 2017
Player and club flirted with one another until July, but couldn’t strike a deal given Arsenal’s asking price, which was reported as close to €60m. Barcelona actually ended up with the excellent Semedo as their fall-back in the end, which has been a blessing for them. The Portuguese was a strong signing from Benfica – but buckle up, we’re just getting started...
June 16: Marco Verratti teases Barcelona from Gran Canaria
Verratti would have breathed new life into Barcelona’s midfield had they been able to land him – he’s one of the few midfielders (who doesn’t already play for Real Madrid) that can go toe-to-toe against other elite rivals. In the first leg of the Champions League last 16, the Italian swooned Barça by dominating; reading the passing lanes and acting as a ball-carrier to start attacks. Afterwards, Barcelona legend Xavi lauded him as the best central midfielder in the world.
In mid-June, a Mundo Deportivo journalist somehow convinced Verratti to pose with a newspaper headlining his rumoured Barça move while on holiday in Gran Canaria, which added fuel to the fire. PSG were never going to sell, though, and apparently it only motivated them to unite Verratti and Neymar on their terms.
— footballitalia (@footballitalia) June 16, 2017
July 5: Theo Hernandez signs for Real Madrid
Many believed that Barcelona were about to torpedo Real Madrid’s offer to sign Atletico Madrid left-back Theo Hernandez. Concrete offers had come in from the Catalans, according to Theo’s agent, and while he didn’t hint at which way his player would sway, the Catalan press were convinced he’d decided to join Barcelona for ‘sporting reasons’.
Theo chose Real Madrid.
July 14: Dani Ceballos signs for Real Madrid
Theo wasn’t the only one who snubbed Barcelona for their arch rivals. For Barcelona, Ceballos’s snub was another stake through the heart – particularly because he filled a position they were so thin in, and Real Madrid certainly weren’t (see Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Mateo Kovacic and Isco). Ceballos’s relationship with Real Madrid players like Marcos Llorente, Jesus Vallejo and Marco Asensio (his best friend) at the Euro U21 tournament surely played a factor in the recruitment process.
July 23: “Se Queda” (“He stays”)
Oh if you only knew what you were setting yourself up for, Gerard.
Se queda. pic.twitter.com/RtPHUr9iTH
— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) July 23, 2017
August 3: Neymar signs for PSG
It gets so much worse. Football was shook to its core on August 3 when Neymar moved to Paris for an astounding transfer fee that more than doubled the world record. His legal representatives paid his €222m release clause, and an utterly powerless Barcelona lost their second-best player.
August 8: Inigo Martinez talks break down
Proper talks had taken place between Real Sociedad and Barcelona over established La Liga defender Inigo Martinez. The Blaugrana wanted the 26-year-old but backed out late on, declaring that Sociedad’s refusal to budge from his €32m release clause was too steep. This one ranks low on the ‘snub’ list.