Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has admitted the club were financially overpowered by Manchester United in the race to sign Paul Pogba in 2016.
Pogba became the most expensive footballer in history when he joined United from Juventus for £89.3m in August 2016.
The Frenchman had also been courted by Real Madrid and PSG but returned to the club he left as a youngster in 2012.
Barca had actually contacted Juventus a year before they sold Pogba to make their interest known, and have since been linked to the midfielder this season.
But they were priced out of a move almost three years ago, leaving United unopposed.
“In the summer of 2015, Paul Pogba was playing in Turin and we simply told Juve that, if one day they decide to sell the player, we would be interested,” Bartomeu told ESPN FC.
“When they sold the player, they told us what the offer would have to be and we couldn’t afford that amount of money at the time.
“So he went to United, and he’s making them better as a team because he’s one of the stars of the world of football right now.”
Bartomeu went on to laud United’s commercial success as the model to follow.
“I joined Barca in 2003 with [Joan] Laporta and, at that time, the revenue was very low,” he said.
“One of the models we were looking at was United: how they were marketing, how they were signing sponsorship [deals] with other companies and, of course, when you learn from the best…
“The gap we had before with United, we don’t have this gap right now. Now we are on similar levels.
“So, United, for us, have always been a reference in terms of finance and revenue, but they have also been a reference in terms of performance.”
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