Former Barcelona transfer chief Ariedo Braida has revealed the LaLiga giants rejected opportunities to sign Paul Pogba and Erling Haaland despite his repeated recommendations.
Braida, who joined Barcelona in 2015 before his acrimonious departure last year, was responsible for recruiting and negotiating deals for foreign talent for the club and was part of a sporting committee – which involved president Josep Maria Bartomeu, vice president Javier Bordas, Jordi Mestre and Alberto Soler – who would discuss possible transfer targets.
The 74-year-old had previously held a similar role at AC Milan and played a key role in facilitating deals for Ruud Gullit, Kaka, Andriy Shevchenko and Thiago Silva to move to the club, but despite his reputation, found that Barcelona routinely dismissed his suggestions.
Barcelona rejected chances to sign Manchester United’s Paul Pogba when he was at Juventus
Erling Haaland was also put forward as a target but Barcelona said he didn’t fit their profile
Former Barcelona transfer chief Ariedo Braida has slammed club for ignoring his suggestions
Braida admitted he was involved in negotiations to bring Pogba to the Nou Camp, but knew that the club never actually had any plans to strike a deal for the player, who he had put forward to Barcelona’s sporting committee.
Speaking to Marca as per Goal, he said: ‘It’s not a lie. It is true that Albert Soler and I went to Milan and met with the Juventus board. But despite the talks, there was no real intention to sign him.
‘In fact, Pogba ended up staying that summer in Turin and did not go to another club. I said he was a great player, I was talking about it with Albert Soler, with whom I consider that he had a good personal relationship, but again, professionally we could not work together because I was not allowed.’
Braida had also identified Haaland, Inter Milan’s Nico Barella and Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo but was left frustrated when Barca ignored his advice again.
Braida was key in helping AC Milan sign star players Kaka (L) and Andriy Shevchenko (R)
He revealed he held talks with Juventus over Pogba but Barca had no intentions of signing him
‘They did not give me the responsibility, they put others in charge of this work,’ he said. ‘I was studying players and I wrote down some names like Haaland from Borussia Dortmund when he was still playing for Rosenborg. But at the club, they told me no, that he didn’t have the Barca profile.
‘From Italy, I also suggested other names, such as Barella, who is now at Inter, or Zaniolo, from Roma. But if you do not have the responsibility to execute this because it has been given to others, you cannot do anything. I was separated.’
Braida’s revelations come after Barcelona’s recruitment had been heavily scrutinised with recent big-money signings Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho – who has rediscovered his form this season – failing to live up to expectations.
The now Manchester United star Pogba, who was widely considered one of the best emerging talents at the time of Braida’s recommendation, has in the past 18 months been linked with a move to Barcelona’s arch-rivals Real Madrid while Haaland is one of Europe’s hottest commodities, having made a blistering start to his career at Borussia Dortmund, and is still on United’s shortlist of targets.
He also put forward Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella to Barcelona, but they passed up on him
Braida said his relationship with the club’s under-fire president Bartomeu was non-existent
Braida, who is taking Barcelona to court in December over his dismissal, also admitted that his relationship with the club’s under-fire president Bartomeu was non-existent.
He added: ‘You say that I know him, but in reality I had nothing to do with him. At first it is true that we talked a little, but later it was non-existent. This was also new for me because normally in Milan, I did have contact with my superior. I think that talking once a year is not having a great relationship.
‘I met him several times in the sports complex and we greeted each other, but I had very little relationship with him. We didn’t talk every day or every week.’