‘Am I going to polish the bench in Barcelona?’ – Former Blaugrana defender Mathieu didn’t want Camp Nou move

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The French defender says the only reason he left Valencia was because of their refusal to offer him improved contract terms

Former Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu has admitted that he didn’t want to move to Camp Nou in 2014 because he knew he would have to “polish the bench”.

Barca snapped Mathieu up from Valencia for €20 million (£17m/$24m) seven years ago, tying him down to a four-season contract.

The Frenchman won plenty of silverware during his time in Catalonia but never managed to establish himself as a regular in the starting XI, and has now revealed that he would have preferred to continue his career at Mestalla.

What’s been said?

“I didn’t want to go to Barca. When the club asked me, I was captain in Valencia, I was enjoying my life there and I was wondering: am I going to polish the bench in Barcelona?” Mathieu told L’Equipe.

“When I received the contract that Barcelona offered me, I drew up a new contract, on which there was a salary of a level between the one I was receiving at that time and the one Barca offered me. 

“I showed this fake contract to Valencia’s sporting director [Francisco] Rufete, telling him: ‘If you give me that, I’ll stay.’ He replied, ‘That shouldn’t be a problem.’

“We called together the president who refused. Rufete couldn’t believe it. I tore up the paper and said to them: ‘So I’m going.’ I understood that they weren’t counting on me.”

Mathieu’s record at Barcelona

Mathieu picked up nine trophies during his three-year spell at Camp Nou, including two Liga titles and the Champions League.

The one-time France international made 91 appearances across all competitions for Barca, scoring three goals, but only started 47 games in La Liga.

He left Camp Nou in 2017 before joining Sporting CP on a free transfer, and won three trophies with the Portuguese club before retiring due to a serious knee injury last year.

Further reading 

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