Josep Maria Minguella, a former agent of Lionel Messi, has claimed that Kylian Mbappe wanted to join Barcelona during the summer and only the dithering of president Josep Maria Bartomeu meant a deal was not brokered.
The 18-year-old striker, who was then with Monaco, was heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid, though it was Paris Saint-Germain who eventually won the race for his signature, signing him on a one-year loan deal that included a compulsory purchase option that could see him cost up to €180 million.
Barca, however, could have had him for cheaper if they had not pursued Mbappe's international team-mate Ousmane Dembele quite so extensively.
“It would have been €120 million plus €30m bonus,” Minguella, who was influential in Barca signing Diego Maradona and Rivaldo among others, told Cadena Cope. “The boy only wanted to go to Barcelona when he learned that Neymar was leaving.
"He didn’t want to go to Paris or Madrid, who have their front three, he wanted to go there and nowhere else.
“But Barca were on Dembele, Dembele and Dembele, because a year earlier they had wanted to sign him for €15 million.”
Minguella pointed the finger of blame squarely at the president for failing to get a move over the line.
“I’ve nothing against Bartomeu, but he’s a disaster,” he said. “These are the key moments. I fully understood that he didn’t want to go to Madrid or Paris. He’d have been mad with joy to play alongside Lionel Messi.”
Mbappe has had a successful start in Paris, becoming the first player under the age of 20 to reach the milestone of eight Champions League goals when he netted against Anderlecht on Wednesday.
Conversely, Dembele, who eventually made a move to Camp Nou from Borussia Dortmund for €105m before bonuses, finds himself on the sidelines for several months after suffering a hamstring tear early in the season.