Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani sat down with The Athletic in what was a thoroughly fascinating interview.
The Italian was brutally honest and gave insight into his club that most club officials would shy away from. Naturally, he was quizzed about the transfer of Raphinha, who joined Barcelona for €58 million plus add-ons.
“Barcelona were not in a clear situation to buy players, but they were shopping around, but they were not able to confirm the deals, because their financial situation was not clear.”
“They were trying to hold the players, while fixing their problems,” he adds.
Radrizzani explains that negotiating with Barcelona was different compared to other teams, though, as clubs generally negotiate with each other.
“We could not deal with Barcelona, as they were not in a position to negotiate. So we made a deal with Chelsea. Raphinha wanted to go, and was open to listening to offers from the Premier League, and Chelsea were in a favourable position.”
He then narrates how that transfer eventually dell through as Barcelona came into the scene, and how Leeds reacted.
“Barcelona influenced and convinced the player to wait, wait, and wait until they could find the solutions. Unfortunately, it shows the power the players and their agents have in the system, which is I think is exaggerated. It’s too much.”
David Ornstein, interviewing Radrizzani, asked him whether he would have preferred to sell the player to Chelsea rather than Barcelona, despite being in the same league.
“The deal with Chelsea was done. I felt ashamed to go back to Todd Boehly and change our position. It was really, for me, disrespectful and not the right thing to do, but I did not have a choice,” he replied.
“If I could, I would not have sold Raphinha at all, but I did not have a choice. For us it was more important to buy six players than keep one – Raphinha,” Radrizzani added, in reference to their shallow squad depth, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
While Barcelona were late in this race, the Italian did reveal that the final amount the Catalans offered was pretty much the same, structurally, as Chelsea.
Unsurprisingly, English journalists Ornstein and Phil Hay were misinformed about Barcelona’s situation, and went ahead and asked whether the Blaugranes will be able to pay the decided amount for the Brazilian winger.
To this, Radrizzani revealed that they had a decided due date for the payment: “I’ll tell you on the 2nd of September. If not, we will have a ‘global case’ on all media against Barcelona.”
Previously, The Athletic have reported that Barça will have to pay around €12 million to Leeds if they fail to pay the money by the deadline. How this proceeds will be for the world to see, though.