Kylian Mbappe could have been Neymar’s replacement at Barcelona, according to Javier Bordas, the former director of the Camp Nou club.
Neymar moved to Paris Saint-Germain in a blockbuster €222 million (£198m/$263m) deal in the summer of 2017, leaving a void at Camp Nou.
Bordas has explained that Barca investigated the potential of signing Mbappe but instead elected to go for Ousmane Dembele because technical secretary Robert Fernandez wanted to bring more width to their side.
“When we were to sign Dembele, agent Josep Maria Minguella called me to tell us Mbappe was within reach,” Bordas told Mundo Deportivo. “I spoke with Josep Maria Bartomeu and he told me to look at him.
“I called Mbappe’s father and he told me that we was not going to go to Real Madrid because Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale were there and that instead he could go to Barca because Neymar had left.
“The president of Monaco preferred that he signed for Barcelona so as not to reinforced PSG, a direct rival. And it could have been done for €100m (£90m/$118m).
“Robert preferred Dembele and Pep Segura supported him. The explanation was that Mbappe plays for himself and Dembele plays for the team, and since a winger like Ney had left, Robert preferred a winger more than a finisher.”
It is a move that Barcelona have lived to regret. While Dembele has shown flashes of the quality he displayed with Rennes and Dortmund, he has spent much of his time in Spain on the injury list and has featured only 82 times in three years, returning 22 goals and 17 assists.
The Catalans spent €105m (£94m/$125m) on the France international, who is now 23, while there are bonus payments of up to €40m (£35m/$47m) included in the deal.
Mbappe, meanwhile, has seen his star ascend since moving to PSG, and a year after his big move he netted in the World Cup final. The forward, though, could soon be on the market once again as his contract is up in 2022 and he has yet to agree a new deal with the Ligue 1 side.