How Barcelona's Hand Was Forced over Jeremy Mathieu Transfer Deal

Rik Sharma@@riksharma_Featured ColumnistJuly 23, 2014

Jeremy Mathieu joins Barcelona.
Jeremy Mathieu joins Barcelona.Miguel Angel Morenatti/Associated Press

In Jeremy Mathieu, Barcelona at last have a new centre-back, but their hand was forced somewhat over the signing, in various ways.

The most recent of these was Valencia's threat to take the French defender on their pre-season tour in South America.

Nuno Espirito Santo's men are flying to Peru in the afternoon, with Mathieu even pictured in the airport.

Sport revealed on Tuesday night that the saga over Mathieu's move was being extended, when Nuno picked him in the 24-man squad to head down south.

It would have been an added complication in a deal which had already been under the microscope for several weeks.

Almost as if desperate to stop him undertaking a long-haul flight to Peru, Barcelona at last stumped up the €20 million, which matches his buy-out clause at Valencia.

He will be with the club for four seasons and has a new buy-out clause of €50 million, per The Guardian report above.

Mathieu had not featured in either of Valencia's two friendlies so far, but enough was enough for the Spanish side and with Barca dilly-dallying, they were prepared to make him fly with them. 

Barcelona had been haggling for weeks to pay less than the €20 million asking price, but they were seemingly forced into action by Valencia's tour schedule.

It was a long and ungainly pursuit, with sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta unhappy about paying the full clause for a player who turns 31 in a couple of months.

Mathieu is nearly 31.
Mathieu is nearly 31.David Ramos/Getty Images

Per Sport, Barcelona initially wanted to pay around €10 million for the defender, who recently converted from left-back to play in the middle of the defence.

Mathieu, waiting to complete the move of a lifetime, agitated.

He met with club president Amadeo Salvo several times as he tried to get his side to cut Barca some slack over the fee.

Eventually, he released an "emotional" statement where he said he loved Valencia but begged to be allowed to leave. Mathieu wrote:

I do not hide that for me this is a step forward in my career in every way. It is a reward for my work, my effort, and it is a unique opportunity that any player would like to take. I came to Valencia five seasons ago and this transfer would be benefit all parties involved. During my time here I have always tried to do my best but it's time I moved forward and ended a cycle which I will always carry in my heart. I will be eternally grateful no matter what.

But still the clubs would not budge on their respective positions, until Valencia announced that they were dragging Mathieu halfway around the world to play.

Barcelona, obviously concerned about the effect the World Cup has had on their players, have picked pre-season games based in Europe only.

They would also want Mathieu to have as much time as possible adjusting to his new life in Barcelona, and the way you have to play while with the Blaugrana.

Being a central defender at Barcelona is considerably different than at most other teams.

You need to be high up the pitch and always concentrating so you don't get caught out on the break.

Valencia knew all this so they were in a commanding position during the transfer negotiations.

Marquinhos (left) was another target.
Marquinhos (left) was another target.Michel Spingler/Associated Press

Barcelona's hand was also forced by other defenders slipping out of their reach.

The likes of David Luiz and Marquinhos were long-term targets, but the former moved to PSG and the latter would have cost too much money.

There were few other options, with Jurgen Klopp ruling out the idea of Mats Hummels moving away.

In the end, Barcelona were left with one choice. And so Valencia made them pay the full price.

Mathieu's move is now the most expensive transfer of a defender aged 30 or over.


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