Lyon forward Memphis Depay has confessed that his proposed switch to Barcelona was nearly complete, only for things to collapse late on.
Ronald Koeman’s arrival at Camp Nou first triggered links to Depay back in August, and given the forward has entered the final year of his deal, Lyon were prepared to sell for the right price.
The move was believed to hinge on Ousmane Dembélé leaving the club, with Manchester United touted as a potential landing spot for the Frenchman. However, that move failed to materialise, leaving Depay stuck in Lyon.
“The agreement was very close,” Depay told NOS. “We do not have to go into all the details, but in reality it was almost closed. Unfortunately, certain rules stopped it.”
The rules in question are believed to be La Liga’s salary cap. Dembélé’s exit would have made a move possible, but it was not financially viable when all was said and done.
“What happened happened, life is like that,” Depay continued. “I have to focus again on Olympique de Lyon, be important there and then we’ll see how things go. Nobody can foresee the future. If I do well what I have to do, the interest in me will continue and maybe then it will happen.”
Barcelona will be able to discuss a contract with Depay in January ahead of sealing a free transfer in the summer, or they could choose to pay a reduced fee to bring him in that month, and Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas is clearly hoping for the latter after he admitted his frustration at the idea of seeing Depay walk away for free.
“It is above all Barcelona which will have a lot of psychological work to do,” Aulas told Lyon’s official website. “The Barça president, whom I had twice on the phone, did not see how things could be done.
“Coach Koeman was hoping. Memphis had made an effort to get the deal done. I have a good relationship with him, I appreciate him a lot. He is disappointed, but he is not disappointed with OL but with Barça. Knowing him, he will do everything on the pitch to go to Barcelona later. Even better, he could show Barca that he can still aim higher.
“Rudi Garcia stood up body and soul for Memphis to stay. A next sale will depend on the results we had by December. We will have to be in a good position so that we can take the right decisions… I haven’t given up on the idea of extending it at all. But it seems difficult because up until now he has refused.”