Wissam Ben Yedder Says Barcelona Have Been Pursuing Him Since Last Summer

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2020

Monaco's French forward Wissam Ben Yedder celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match Nice against Monaco on March 7, 2020 at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, southeastern France. (Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP) (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

Monaco striker Wissam Ben Yedder has said Barcelona have been interested in signing him since last summer.

The Frenchman enjoyed the best season of his career to date in 2018-19, netting 18 goals and providing nine assists for Sevilla in La Liga and also scoring eight times in eight UEFA Europa League appearances.

In August 2019, he signed for Monaco in a €40 million (£37.1 million) deal after being strongly linked with Manchester United:

B/R Football @brfootball

Wissam Ben Yedder is a force ⚡️ https://t.co/1fodgk6tPb

However, he has now said that Barca were also in for him and inquired about signing him again in January, per Onze Mondial (h/t Goal's James Westwood):

"For starters, these are things that could have happened long before. Last summer, for example. They [Barca] took information about me several times. This winter, it could have been done. It didn't happen; that's how it was, that it shouldn't be done.

"It shows that I am doing a good job. I stayed professional and focused on my performances with Monaco. When Barca arrived, I took it as a plus, as a bonus."

The 2019-20 Ligue 1 season has not been Monaco's best. After 28 games, the 2016-17 champions sit ninth:

Ligue1 English @Ligue1_ENG

👀📈📉 Here's how the league table looks after Matchday 28! How did your side do this weekend? https://t.co/tjwVGfmjnF

It is, however, a vast improvement on last term, when they finished 17th, only narrowly avoiding relegation to Ligue 2.

Ben Yedder has played a key role in ensuring Monaco avoided being dragged into a relegation battle again. In 26 league appearances this term, he has equalled last season's tally of 18 goals, three more than top-scorer Radamel Falcao netted for Monaco last term.

As a result, Ben Yedder sits atop the 2019-20 Ligue 1 scoring charts alongside Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe. Unlike Mbappe, though, the 29-year-old does not have a host of other players around him regularly finding the net.

PSG have two other players who have reached double figures in Ligue 1 this season—Neymar has 13 goals, and Mauro Icardi 12—and Mbappe's 18 goals account for 24 per cent of the defending champions' overall tally.

Ben Yedder, meanwhile, has scored 41 per cent of Monaco's league goals this term. It is no surprise, then, that Barca have been tracking him, as he has shown himself to be a top-class striker over the last two seasons.