Jeremy Mathieu was signed by Barcelona in 2014 to provide defensive cover to both the central and full back areas, but the Frenchman has admitted that he wasn’t keen on the idea.
He was a key figure at Valencia and knew that he would be playing a bit part role with the Catalan giants.
“I didn’t want to go to Barcelona,” he told L’Equipe.
“When they approached me (in 2014), I was captain of Valencia, I was enjoying my life there and I was wondering: ‘Am I going to polish the bench at Barcelona?’
“When I received the contract they offered me, I drew up a new contract, in which there was a salary worth somewhere between the one I had at that time and the one that Barcelona offered me.
“I showed this fake contract to Valencia’s sporting director [Francisco] Rufete, telling him: If you give me this, I’ll stay. He replied: ‘That shouldn’t be a problem’.
“We got together with the president [Amadeo Salvo], who refused. Rufete couldn’t believe it.
“I tore the paper up and told them I’m leaving.”
His time at Barcelona was not as rosy as it was at Valencia.
“I scored an own goal with Barcelona against Villarreal (in a 2-2 draw in March 2016),” he recalled.
“From a corner, I didn’t see the ball arrive, it bounced off my chest and went in. Afterwards, all the Spanish journalists crushed me, as if I had done it on purpose.”
Mathieu spoke of many other things, including his toughest opponent.
“Diego Costa! He gives you little knocks to get you out of the game. He steps on your feet, apologises and starts again immediately afterwards,” he said.
“He ends up irritating you, you respond and you get a card.”