Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has broken his silence over the manner in which Neymar left the club for Paris St-Germain.
Bartomeu even suggested the Brazilian wanted to leave even as he was signing a new contract in 2016 but said Barca were now in an even stronger position to strengthen the squad.
“Before [speaking about the future], we want to close off a chapter from the past,” he told Barca’s annual supporters’ club congress on Monday. “Neymar has formed part of our club, but he is now history. It’s his decision, despite the fact we did everything in our power for him to stay.”
Neymar signed a new contract at the club in October of last year but Bartomeu admitted that the club had a suspicion he would leave.
“We anticipated that Neymar could leave and that’s why we increased his clause. Whatever happened would have been good for Barca. If he stayed, we’d have been left with a great player and if he left we’d have got a great amount of money.
“We always acted responsibly and while we do not share his decision, we do respect it – although that’s not to say we don’t defend our own interests. Everything has its limit and no player is above Barca. [Neymar’s] way of doing things was not the best. It was not befitting a Barcelona player.”
Despite the fractious world record €222 million transfer, Bartomeu said that the club were already working on replacing the 25-year-old superstar.
“With the money, we can now make signings, although we will administer the €222 million with commonsense. We will invest it in players and assets – it won’t all go on signings.”