Abidal: Barcelona decided to sign Griezmann instead of Neymar

Stefan Bienkowski
Stefan Bienkowski Updated: 17 May 2021 18:07 CEST 5 min read
Abidal: Barcelona decided to sign Griezmann instead of Neymar

Barcelona’s former director of football, Eric Abidal, has claimed that the club had the opportunity to re-sign Neymar in 2019 but bought Antoine Griezmann instead. 

Neymar left in the summer of 2017 to join Paris Saint-Germain for a reported €222 million but was close to rejoining the Spanish giants two years later following months of speculation. 

In the end, Barcelona decided to draw a line under the speculation with the signing of Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann for a reported €120m. 

However, Abidal has now revealed that Barcelona were very close to re-signing Neymar and went to great lengths to try and hammer out a deal with PSG. 

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“Ten days before the end of the transfer window, I went to Paris to talk with Leonardo (PSG’s sporting director) and I was with my CEO, and we were talking about Neymar,” said Abidal in an interview with the Telegraph

“I think if the CEO goes to Paris Saint-Germain, it’s because we can sign him. If we didn’t sign Griezmann before, I think 100 percent we could have re-signed Neymar because what we needed was a winger and when Neymar was in Barcelona he was amazing. 

“This is not about which player is better, it was what I thought was the position we needed at the time. The team needed a real winger. The president decided to sign Griezmann.”

Was signing Griezmann over Neymar the right decision? 

Abidal’s revelations will undoubtedly anger many within the Barcelona support, who continue to question whether Griezmann was worth the tremendous amount of money the club spent on him over two years ago. 

Since making the move to the Catalan side, the France international has managed just 29 goals and 15 assists in 88 games for Barcelona in all competitions. 

Even this season, as Ronald Koeman has slowly but surely managed to turn the team’s form around and point them in the direction of a title challenge, Griezmann has still only managed 14 goals and 11 assists in 40 games. 

Whether Neymar would have been able to do better is impossible to tell, but based on his performances for Barcelona before making the move to France it’s probably safe to assume he would have been the preferred choice among most fans.