Speaking in an exclusive interview with Mundo Deportivo, former Barcelona director Javier Bordas discussed various topics including almost signing Kylian Mbappé, managerial sackings and player departures during his time at the club.

On Kylian Mbappé

We had the option of buying Kylian Mbappé for €100m when we were pursuing Ousmane Dembélé. I called Mbappé’s father and he told me that he was not going to go to Madrid because Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale were there and instead he could go to Barça because Neymar had left. The president of Monaco also preferred us over PSG, a direct rival. The explanation at the time was that Mbappé plays for himself and Dembélé plays for the team. We could have bought Mbappé for €100m, but the technical secretary preferred Dembélé and Pep Segura supported him.

On Neymar

I know why Neymar left, he told me. But it’s better if he tells you, not me. It is true that some players agreed to a lower salary in order to bring back Neymar. Even Ney agreed to give up a lot of privileges he had at PSG to return to Barcelona. We were very serious about signing Neymar. We were so close that he thought he was coming and so did I. Ney said that his home was Barça and that he wanted to return. We really wanted him to come, we tried in every possible way. PSG is not a selling club.

On Ernesto Valverde

It was a mistake to sack Valverde while being league leaders, as it was also a mistake to bring in Quique Setién.

On former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu

Bartomeu didn’t deserve this ending at all. It is a real shame.

On Erling Haaland

Haaland didn’t join Barcelona because the technical staff told me that he wasn’t a Barça type of striker – that he was not a player with Barça DNA. The truth is that players come, and you don’t know how they will perform.

On transfers

I had recommended many players to the club like Haaland, Ferran Torres, Dani Olmo etc, and they were all for €20m.

On goalkeepers

I wanted to bring Thibaut Courtois to the club, but Andoni Zubizarreta, who called it right, wanted to bring in Ter Stegen. However, Juan Carlos Unzué arrived and we decided to sign Claudio Bravo. Maybe we could’ve signed Courtois and Stegen.

On Álvaro Morata as Luis Suárez’s replacement

I thought in recent years that Suárez needed a replacement and there are not many who can replace him because Luis is one of the best. A good one was Álvaro Morata, who wanted to leave Chelsea. I talked to Bartomeu and he told me he liked him a lot. It was possible to bring him in on loan but the technical secretary rejected it and Kevin-Prince Boateng came in instead.