PSG tried to sign Luka Modric in 2012 before the Croatian midfielder eventually joined Real Madrid, former sporting director at the Parc des Princes Leonardo has revealed.
However, in a surprising admission concerning a club that broke the world transfer record to bring Neymar to Paris last summer, a lack of funds meant that PSG had to look elsewhere for a midfielder a year after Nasser Al-Khelaifi has taken control of the Ligue 1 giants.
Leonardo had pinpointed Modric as a key signing in the close season after the 2011-12 campaign but PSG had already been active in the transfer market, signing Thiago Silva (€42m), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (€21m) and Ezequiel Lavezzi (€29) before turning their attention to the then-Spurs player.
Emir of Qatar intervened in Modric pursuit
Speaking to Canal+ France, Leonardo said that the current Emir of Qatar, who was then crown prince, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, had been an active participant in the decision to abandon a bid for Modric and to make a move instead for Marco Verratti, who was then at Pescara in Serie A.
“[Al Thani] was important in the decision being taken; he knows football,” Leonardo said. “At that time we were trying to sign Modric but it wasn’t possible. We had already signed Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic and Modric was too expensive… so we went for the more viable option and we were all convinced that Verratti was a good choice.”
The Italy international arrived at the Parc des Princes for €12m while Modric eventually moved to the Bernabéu for €30m.
Leonardo: PSG spoke to Neymar in 2011
Leonardo, who currently coaches Antalyaspor in the Turkish Super Lïg, also revealed that PSG had attempted to sign Neymar before he moved to Barcelona from Santos in 2013. “We spoke to Neymar in 2011. He was already a player who was showing he could become what he is today but the idea was that he would remain in Brazil until 2014.”