BARCELONA, Spain, Sep 2 – A leading Barcelona board member claimed Liverpool set an asking price of Sh24.5bn ($238mn) for midfielder Philippe Coutinho as the Catalan giants criticised the rampant inflation in the football transfer market on Saturday.
Albert Soler, Barca’s director of institutional relations, said the club’s under-fire board would not put the future of the institution at risk by bending to excessive demands.
“Liverpool put a price of 200 million euros on a player that we wanted,” Soler told reporters at a press conference held to explain Barca’s haphazard signing policy this summer.
Liverpool, though, responded angrily to his claim and were quoted on the BBC’s website as saying it was “absolutely false”.
Barca ended the window making a slight profit on transfers after receiving a world record 222 million euros from Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Despite splashing over 190 million on five signings, most notably 105 million euros on 20-year-old French winger Ousmane Dembele, Soler claimed Barca wouldn’t be drawn into an arms race with the cash-rich Premier League and Qatar-backed PSG.
“We didn’t want to put at risk the heritage of the club. This is a club of 150,000 members and has to be managed with coherence and responsiblity,” added Soler.
“We won’t get involved in the game of a market that has lost its way.
“This board won’t put the club at risk. UEFA and the European Clubs Association (ECA) have to reflect and make a decision.”
UEFA announced on Friday that PSG will be investigated for a potential breach of Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules after adding Kylian Mbappe to the capture of Neymar from Monaco in a deal that could rise to 180 million euros.
Soler dismissed claims that Barca’s status as one of the world’s leading clubs is being threatened by their inability or unwillingness to match the lavish spending of other clubs.
“We haven’t lost any international status for having common sense and not putting the financial viability of the club at risk.”
Barca also insist that five-time world player of the year Lionel Messi will soon sign a new contract, tying him to the club until 2021.
The club announced the agreement of the deal with Messi, 30, on July 5, but the Argentine has yet to formally put pen to paper.
“I want to send a message of calm to the members. There is no problem,” added Soler over the delay.
“When the club announced an agreement it is validated by both parties.
“All that is lacking is the protocol.”