Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has confessed that he regrets not kick-starting the club’s rebuild after their stunning defeat to Liverpool in the 2018/19 Champions League semi-final.
After Lionel Messi dragged Barcelona to a 3-0 win in the first leg, the Catalan side came unstuck in the return fixture as Liverpool roared to a famous 4-0 victory – the second year in a row they had been stunned by a big comeback, after Roma dumped them out in 2018.
Instead of hitting the reset button there and then, Barcelona stood firm and persisted with their squad at the time, only to be absolutely thumped 8-2 by Bayern Munich 12 months later, and Bartomeu has confessed he missed the right chance to start over.
“Instead, I listened to the players and I was wrong. We were pushing ourselves to the limit economically and then the pandemic caught us all by surprise.”
Bartomeu also lifted the lid on some of Barcelona’s infamously poor signings during his reign, namely those of Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann.
“Some of those deals we made did not meet expectations,” he explained. “Players who have cost a lot of money, but these things happen in football.
“When these two players [Dembele and Coutinho] were signed, they were applauded by everyone. Coutinho came because Andres Iniesta was leaving, he was the best in the Premier League. Dembele came because of Neymar’s departure. The parameters, according to specialists, are 50% correct and 50% incorrect.
“As for Griezmann, the coaches asked and insisted for a year. They considered it essential, especially because Luis Suarez had been injured a lot that season. He was a different striker, a world star and a team player.”