Barcelona were so keen to bring Neymar back from Paris St Germain that the players were ready to accept delays to salary payments in order for the club to afford the Brazilian, defender Gerard Pique has revealed.
Barca spent the bulk of the last transfer window trying to lure Neymar back from PSG, two years after he left the Catalans for a world record transfer fee of 222 million euros ($248 million).
But the two clubs failed to reach an agreement before September’s transfer deadline.
The Catalans, who had already signed French forward Antoine Griezmann for 120 million euros and Frenkie de Jong for 75 million, were constricted in their pursuit for Neymar by Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
The rules, designed to prevent the sport’s richest owners from crushing their rivals, oblige clubs to be transparent about revenues and broadly balance them against expenditure. They also include a limit on the losses clubs can incur.
“We told (club president Josep Maria) Bartomeu that if it was necessary to delay payments in our contracts to meet Financial Fair Play regulations and sign Neymar we would do it,” Pique told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser on Thursday.
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“We were ready to adjust our contracts. We weren’t going to contribute money, but we were going to make things easier by allowing some payments to be made in the second or third year instead of the first.”
The Brazilian sat out the start of the season while he waited for the transfer saga to end but returned to the team in September, scoring four goals in five Ligue 1 appearances.
He is currently sidelined with a groin injury sustained on international duty with Brazil.