Barcelona close disastrous transfer window with whimper

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Instead of a promised player to help fill the hole left by Neymar, Barcelona made no signings on the final day of the summer transfer market in Spain.

Barcelona had been after Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho for weeks, and on Monday Barcelona’s sports director Robert Fernandez said the club wanted to bring in “one or possibly two players” before the transfer window shut on Friday.

But the midnight deadline to acquire new players in la Liga struck before Barcelona could pry away Coutinho or find a similar talent to help its attack. Media reports had speculated that Barcelona was also interested in Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel Di Maria and Juventus playmaker Paulo Dybala.

The only activity at Camp Nou on Friday was Barcelona’s agreement to loan forward Munir El Haddadi to fellow Spanish club Alaves. He played on loan at Valencia last season.

Fernandez had also said it was likely that other players would leave the club. But midfielder Arda Turan and the disappointing Andre Gomes both stayed put.

Barcelona announced late on Friday that Fernandez and club official Albert Soler would hold a press conference on Saturday, apparently to explain what went wrong in the transfer window.

The failure to sign Coutinho or another top-notch playmaker caps an awful month for Barcelona, which started when Neymar bolted for PSG after the French club triggered his buyout clause by paying a world record fee of $262 million.

Barcelona was able to reinvest part of that payout in France winger Ousmane Dembele and Brazil midfielder Paulinho. Paulinho cost $47 million. Dembele’s final cost could reach $173 million, making him the third most expensive transfer after Neymar and PSG’s new signing Kylian Mbappe.