Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has revealed that the club opted to sign Ousmane Dembele instead of Kylian Mbappe back in 2017.
Dembele joined Barça in a deal worth up to €145m following a successful season with Borussia Dortmund, while France teammate Mbappe left Monaco for Paris Saint-Germain for up to €180m later that same window.
But while Mbappe has gone from strength to strength in the French capital, Dembele has spent much of his time at Camp Nou injured and on the fringes of the squad.
Bartomeu, who is not a popular man among Barcelona supporters due to a series of bad decisions that ultimately have led to their current financial crisis, revealed in an interview with Esport3 (via Marca) that a deal for Mbappe was possible, but was vetoed in favour of signing Dembele.
"[Mbappe's] signing was on the table, but the coaches preferred Dembele because they wanted a player to open the field," he said.
Dembele was signed after PSG triggered Neymar's €222m release clause, with Bartomeu saying two years later that he considered the French winger to be superior to his predecessor.
Philippe Coutinho was also brought in following Neymar's departure, and while these two signings have failed to live up to the hype at Barça so far, Bartomeu insists they looked like good deals at the time.
"Some of us have not met expectations, players who have cost a lot of money, but these things happen in football," he said.
"When these two players were signed, they were applauded by everyone. Coutinho came because Andres Iniesta was going. He was the best player in the Premier League. Dembele came because of Neymar's departure."
Gerard Pique also recently revealed on a Twitch stream that he tried to convince Vinicius Junior to snub Real Madrid and join him at Barcelona, but those efforts were unsuccessful.
However, he refused to comment on Bartomeu's assertions that a deal for Mbappe could have been completed four years ago.