Barcelona was forced to look for suitable replacements right away who could carry Sergio Busquets’ legacy from the base of midfield after he finished his trophy-filled chapter in Catalonia.
Members of the Blaugrana management disagreed on the recruitment approach, therefore the first few weeks of the summer transfer window were spent searching for a defensive midfielder with a certain stylistic aptitude.
MARCA has now publicly stated that the connections between Barça and Ruben Neves were genuine and that Deco’s influence as an arbitrator behind closed doors was a major factor in the move’s failure.
Barcelona received a horrible deal when Ruben Neves moved there.
The chance of the Portuguese star joining the Catalan giants was increased by Barcelona president Joan Laporta’s insistence on signing Neves and his good working relationships with Jorge Mendes, the player’s agent.
Martin Zubimendi, according to Xavi and the coaching staff, was a player worth pursuing instead, hence they stayed opposed to the signing throughout.
The manager reportedly had reservations about signing Neves because he thought the Portuguese international was better suited for a box-to-box midfield role like Franck Kessie or Frenkie de Jong.
Deco, who was already seen in the boardroom pulling the strings even though he had not yet received the official director’s post, was instrumental in the relocation not happening.
Deco is the new sporting director for Barcelona (Image courtesy of FC Barcelona).
Playing the role of the mediator, Deco diffused the conflict by speaking with both Xavi and Mendes and outlining the concerns on each side. As a result, both parties were unhappy with the prospective move.
The new sports director of the Blaugrana was given a detailed explanation by Xavi of the types of players he was looking for and why Neves was not a suitable fit.
Mendes was asked by Deco if he was aware that he would be joining a club in which the manager did not have complete faith in him.
The former Portuguese international was extremely clear in saying that if this transaction went through, it would be a “bad deal” for everyone involved, including Xavi, Neves, and Barça, who would spend a lot of money on a player they didn’t want.
Ultimately, Deco was able to persuade the super agent to look into other opportunities, which allowed Neves to locate a suitor in Saudi Arabia.
Barcelona completed the low-cost Oriol Romeu transaction by having the 26-year-old move to Al Hilal, while Xavi offered little opposition to his hiring.