Verratti fluff, Coutinho failure and Neymar disaster - How Barcelona's summer of discontent unfolded

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With the transfer window about to close in Spain, Goal takes a chronological look at what have been a difficult few months for the Catalan club

This has not been an easy summer for Barcelona. Even before the departure of Neymar and the arrival of Ousmane Dembele, there were plenty of rumours, along with contradictions, fallouts at boardroom level and much more in a turbulent few months for the Catalan club.

Barca's 2016-17 season ended with victory in the final of the Copa del Rey on May 27 and two days later, Ernesto Valverde was announced as the club's new coach as Luis Enrique stepped down following three campaigns in charge.

Get Barca at 13/2 to win the Champions League

On May 31, Valverde was unveiled and told the media he wanted to make Barcelona "even greater than it is already". Little did he know, however, what was in store in the weeks and months ahead.

Here, Goal takes a chronological look at Barcelona's summer, starting in June, when Neymar began to become frustrated with life at Camp Nou. Barca, meanwhile, were still hoping to sign Marco Verratti from Paris Saint-Germain...

Ernesto Valverde Barcelona


JUNE 2017


2 - Verratti follows Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta on Instagram as a summer switch seems likely.

3 - Real Madrid win their 12th European Cup by beating Juventus in Cardiff and Isco ends speculation over his future by confirming he will stay with Los Blancos.

5 - Barcelona enquire about Dembele and Borussia Dortmund value the French forward initially at €90 million. The Catalan club also ask Arsenal about Hector Bellerin and are told he will cost €70m.

8 - Former presidential candidate Agusti Benedito announces he is planning a censure motion against club chief Josep Maria Bartomeu.

9 - Verratti's agent, Donato Di Campli, complains that “PSG are not growing” and warns that “Verratti likes Barcelona".

12 - Verratti tells PSG he wants to move to Barcelona.

13 - Bartomeu assures fans that “Messi wants to retire at Barcelona”, even though there is no news about the Argentine's contract renewal.

15 - Verratti starts to put pressure on PSG and allows himself to be photographed in Ibiza with a newspaper front page linking him to Barcelona.

16 - Monaco pay the €3m release clause to take Barcelona's Juvenil A starlet Jordi Mboula to Ligue 1.

17 - Barcelona contact PSG to discuss a move for Verratti but are told the player is not for sale.

Marco Verratti

20 - The Catalan club meet with Jorge Mendes to discuss the future of Andre Gomes. Officially, the Portuguese midfielder is not for sale.

21 - Barca contact Bellerin, who reveals he is keen on a return to Camp Nou. But, like Verratti, he is not willing to force an exit.

22 - Lucas Lima admits during a poker game that he will sign for Barcelona in 2018, when his contract with Santos is due to end.

23 - Verratti refuses PSG's offer of a new deal.

24 - Paulinho reveals he has an offer from Barcelona.

26 - Santos threaten to sue Barcelona and report the club to FIFA for negotiating with Lima, who is still under contract. The Blaugrana rule out the player, represented by Neymar's father, in order to avoid possible sanctions. Neymar's father is furious.

27 - Manchester City sign talented Juvenil B centre-back Eric Garcia for €1.7m.

28 - Carles Alena renews until 2020 on the same day that another talented youngster, Juvenil A full-back Mateu Morey, joins Bayern Munich for €3m.

30 - Barca re-sign Gerard Deulofeu for €12m. On the same day, Neymar tells his team-mates he has decided to move to PSG on the day Messi marries Antonela Roccuzzo in Rosario.

Deulofeu Barcelona Chapecoense Gamper 2017

However, Barcelona's board are still not contemplating the loss of one of their stars, the player they had signed as a long-term successor for Messi. At that point, the club were working on reinforcing the midfield balance and were still hoping to bring in Verratti. But July would turn out to be another stressful month for the Blaugrana...


JULY 2017


1 - With a move for Verratti looking complicated, Barcelona ask about Ander Herrera. Manchester United tell them he is not for sale.

2 - Barcelona consider signing Betis midfielder Dani Ceballos.

3 - A new scandal emerges as Catalan television station TV3  reveal in an investigation that Barcelona have been selling socios' unused seats as expensive VIP tickets. The club call an emergency press conference, but are unable to convincingly deny the information and instead hit out at TV3 .

4 - Ceballos reveals he will decide “in two weeks” whether he will sign for Real Madrid, who were in contact earlier with Betis, or Barcelona. On the same day, the Blaugrana make an initial €20m offer to Guangzhou Evergrande for Paulinho.

5 - Barcelona announce Messi's contract renewal until 2021. Guangzhou Evergrande refuse Barca's bid for Paulinho and reveal that the player will not move unless his €40m release clause is paid.

6 - The Catalans turn down a €45m bid for Gomes and a €35m offer for Sergi Roberto. They also make a €30m offer to Arsenal for Bellerin.

7 - Bartomeu tells Catalunya Radio  that “Messi signed his renewal at the end of June”. Verratti returns to training with PSG and says sorry to the fans in a video in which he claims he is happy at the Parisian club.

8 - Jeremy Mathieu signs for Sporting CP after his Barca contract is rescinded.

9 - Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid, personally makes contact with Ceballos to convince him to sign for Los Blancos.

10 - Bartomeu also calls Ceballos and tells him he could be ‘the new Iniesta’. Outside Spain, Dani Alves turns his back on Manchester City and signs for PSG.

11 - Ceballos confirms he will sign for Real Madrid on the same day that Benedito announces he has half the signatures required for a censure motion to prosper.

Dani Ceballos Real Madrid

12 - The Valverde era starts as the players return to training for their medical exams and only Deulofeu brought in so far. Barca make a second offer, €27m, for Paulinho.

13 - Guangzhou Evergrande turn down Barca's bid. Meanwhile, the Catalans announce the signing of right-back Nelson Semedo from Benfica, even though the Portuguese club deny the deal initially.

14 - Semedo is unveiled at Camp Nou.

17 - Barca announce record income of €706m, which is €10m more than the budget had revealed at the start of the season.

18 - Catalan daily  Sport  claims Neymar is unhapy. Barca vice-president Jordi Mestre responds by saying: “Neymar is staying, 200%.” Technical secretary Robert Fernandez adds: “I don't think anybody will pay Neymar's clause”. Meanwhile, the player himself tells Goal in an interview that he is "happy at Barcelona". The controversy, however, is just beginning.

19 - Esporte Interativo  drop the bombshell of the summer: Neymar will move to PSG. In Paris, Verratti splits with Di Campli and starts working with Mino Raiola.

20 - Real Madrid unveil Dani Ceballos.

21 - Barca travel to the United States for their summer tour.

22 - Barcelona kick off pre-season with a 2-1 win over Juventus with Neymar in fantastic form.

23 - Gerard Pique posts a picture of himself with Neymar on Instagram and Twitter with the message "se queda" (he stays). Barca make a €90m offer for Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho.

25 - Barcelona reach an agreement with Coutinho, but Liverpool are unwilling to negotiate.

26 - Neymar scores the only goal as Barca beat Manchester United 1-0.

28 - Bartomeu insists, this time on  ESPN : “Messi signed his renewal some days ago”.

Neymar Barcelona Real Madrid ICC

29 - The Blaugrana beat Real Madrid 3-2 in the Miami Clasico, with Neymar again on great form. The Brazilian spends 15 minutes in the Madrid dressing room after the game and leaves with two shirts.

30 - The team return to Barcelona.

During the month of July, Barcelona saw the possibility of signing Verratti evaporate, and also missed out to Real Madrid for Ceballos. In the meantime, the Catalans saw two bids for Paulinho turned down and despite good results on tour in the USA, the month ended with Neymar edging ever closer to a shock departure. The perfect storm would follow in August...


AUGUST 2017


1 - Barcelona make a second offer for Coutinho - this time for €100m.

2 - Neymar tells Barca he wants to move to PSG, with the Parisian club prepared to pay his €222m release clause.

3 - PSG deposit the €222m with the LFP (Spain's Professional League authority) and Barcelona hold back the €26m loyalty bonus they were due to pay Neymar following his renovation last October, leaving the money with a notary.

4 - Barcelona make an enquiry for Inigo Martinez. Real Sociedad respond by saying he will only leave if the club pay his releause clause, set at €32m. Barca draw 1-1 with Gimnastic Tarragona in a friendly. Over in Paris, Neymar is unveiled at the Parc des Princes. The Brazilian speaks of "new challenges" and wanting "to play with the best".

5 - Bartomeu calls Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay to try and convince him to sell Inigo Martinez.

7 - Barcelona, now without Neymar, beat Chapecoense 5-0 in the Gamper Trophy with Deulofeu starting in the Brazilian's left-wing role.

8 - With €222m to spend, Barca make another enquiry about Dembele, but are told he will cost €150m. Meanwhile, the Catalans decide they will not pay the €32m for Inigo Martinez.

Neymar PSG

9 - Liverpool turn down Barca's €100m bid for Coutinho.

11 - Coutinho hands in a transfer request, but Liverpool insist they will not listen to offers. Dortmund also refuse to sell Dembele for €80m and €30m in add-ons.

12 - Valverde appears uneasy at the lack of new signings and says: "I hope to have a team that is up to the demands" of the new season.

13 - Barcelona lose 3-1 at home to Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Supercopa. On the same night, Neymar makes his PSG debut and impresses in a win at Guingamp. Meanwhile, Dembele is fined and suspended for missing training at Dortmund.

14 - Pep Segura, Barca's sporting manager, appears to blame Gerard Pique's own goal for the Clasico defeat. “His mistake was decisive," he said.

16 - Barcelona lose 2-0 to Real Madrid in the second leg of the Supercopa and also had less possession than their rival in a Clasico for the first time since 2008.

17 - Paulinho is unveiled by Barca. During the event, Mestre says the club were not aware that Neymar would leave until half way through the US tour and also admits that Messi had not actually signed his new deal, showing that Bartomeu had lied about the matter in two interviews.

18 - Barcelona reach an agreement with Nice midfielder Jean Seri and are prepared to pay the player's €40m release clause. The Catalans also step up their Coutinho chase with a third bid - this time for €125m.

20 - Valverde's side start La Liga with a 2-0 win at home to Betis.

22 - Barcelona announce they will sue Neymar for breach of contract. Hours later, Messi, Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Pique post pictures alongside Neymar (back in Barcelona for a visit) on social media. The Catalans up their offer for Dembele to €130m including variables.

23 - Seri's signing is ruled out at the last minute amid doubts among Barca's technical team that he is the right fit.

24 - Neymar takes his own case to FIFA, calling for Barca to pay the €26m bonus held back by the Catalan club, still with a notary following his move to PSG.

25 - Barcelona agree Dembele deal with Dortmund for for €105m plus €42m in add-ons.

Bartomeu Ousmane Dembele Barcelona Unveiling

26 - Messi scores twice as Barca beat Alaves 2-0 in their second Liga game.

27 - Dembele poses in a Barca shirt for the first time.

28 - The France forward is unveiled at Camp Nou with almost 18,000 fans in attendance. "I'm not here to replace Neymar," he says. Meanwhile, many of those supporters call for Bartomeu's resignation.

29 - Marlon Santos goes on loan to Nice.

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30 - Seung Woo Lee, previously nicknamed 'the Korean Messi', joins Hellas Verona for €1m, although Barca retain a buy-back clause.

31 - Douglas goes on loan to Benfica.

So there it is - not the summer Barcelona had in mind back in late May. The Blaugrana had started this week by promising to bring in at least two more players, but by the end of August, still no new signing had come in. September has started with Benedito launching the censure motion (or no-confidence vote) against Bartomeu and the Spanish transfer window slams shut at midnight on Friday. Time is running out...

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