Bundesliga

Agent explains why 16-year-old defensive gem left Barcelona for Bundesliga

Agent explains why 16-year-old defensive gem left Barcelona for Bundesliga

Agent explains why 16-year-old defensive gem left Barcelona for Bundesliga

Recently, Barcelona lost one of the promising young centre-backs coming up through the La Masia ranks, Andrea Natali, who signed for Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen.

The 16-year-old Italian ace had been at Barça since 2020 when he arrived from the Espanyol academy and had risen to the club’s Under-18 setup.

Natali had also tasted success on the international stage, winning the UEFA Under-17 European Championships with Italy not very long ago.

With his contract expiring at the end of this month, the youngster opted to jump ship to Leverkusen, with Barça expected to receive some form of financial compensation.

Agent sheds light on Natali’s exit

Now, Natali’s agent Vincenzo Raiola, cousin of the late Mino Raiola, has explained in an interview with SPORT as to why the 16-year-old defensive prodigy left Barcelona for Bayer Leverkusen.

Raiola claimed that the teenager’s first choice was to continue at Barça and they had conveyed the same to the club last year itself, but there was a lack of clarity regarding his progression within the Catalan outfit.

“We told Barça almost a year ago that our priority was to continue. Our idea was that Andrea could play in the reserve team next season,” said Raiola.

“But that was never the club’s wish. It was strange and difficult to understand what the sporting project was for Andrea. It wasn’t clear if it was Juvenil ‘A’, if it was Barça Atlètic…,” he added.

Andrea Natali has left Barcelona for Bayer Leverkusen. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

The agent also revealed that Barcelona’s offer was much lower financially than what Natali had received from several other important clubs in Europe.

“The economic part also seemed insufficient and very, very far from what many teams in Europe proposed to us. They had a different vision of what it could be and Andrea was already Andrea in the eyes of very important clubs,” he confirmed.

No timely response

Furthermore, Vincenzo Raiola alleged that Barcelona did not take an active part in contract negotiations for Natali, stating that the club went almost a month without responding to the terms he had offered.

“When I sent our last proposal, Toni Hernández took more than three weeks to reply. For us it was already significant. In fact, it was me who contacted him again and not him,” Raiola remarked.

“He told me that they trusted Andrea but that this proposal was their maximum, that they would not move from there, neither sportingly nor economically.”

Raiola then went on to reveal that Natali had offers from the likes of AC Milan, Ajax, RB Salzburg, and even Bayern Munich, but they committed to Leverkusen.

Time to learn new styles

Vincenzo Raiola also went on state that it was time for Natali to come out of Barcelona’s ‘rigid’ approach to their style and tiki-taka football and learn other ways of playing and grow into a complete footballer.

“Andrea needed a new step, another football in which he could go deeper into issues or concepts that at Barça have been somewhat limited due to the rigidity that comes with the famous question of style,” the Italian stated.

“Andrea needs to know more modern football, to have a total knowledge of football, 360 degrees, not just the famous tiki-taka.”

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