Josep Maria Bartomeu has told ESPN FC that Barcelona could not afford to compete with Manchester United to sign Paul Pogba when he left Juventus in 2016.
Pogba and United face Barcelona in the Champions League at Old Trafford on Wednesday, but the France international could have been playing for the La Liga leaders had things worked out differently.
Barca held meetings with Juventus and Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, in 2015, reaching an agreement that allowed them to match any offer Juve accepted.
But when United agreed to pay £90m for Pogba a year later, they dropped out of the race.
“In the summer of 2015, Paul Pogba was playing in Turin and we simply told Juve that, if one day they decide to sell the player, we would be interested,” Barca president Bartomeu said.
“When they sold the player, they told us what the offer would have to be and we couldn’t afford that amount of money at the time.
“So he went to United, and he’s making them better as a team because he’s one of the stars of the world of football right now.”
Real Madrid and Barca have been touted as possible destinations should Pogba leave United in the future, but Bartomeu said, “I prefer not to talk about players from other teams because I am sure there are also players at Barca that can make other teams better.
“What I have to recognise is that United, in the last few years, have created a very good group, good players that are coming through. I am sure next season they will be candidates for the Premier League, and this year for the Champions League.”