Real Betis coach Quique Setien has denied rumours that he was consulted for advice before Barcelona signed Kevin-Prince Boateng from Sassuolo.
Boateng played under Setien at Las Palmas during the 2016/17 campaign. The Ghanian attacker netted 10 times in 25 games, finding form under the Spanish coach. This link ignited rumours that Barcelona contacted the coach before making a move for the player.
Five things to know about Barcelona’s latest loan signing…
- After selling Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla, Barcelona were in the market for a new back-up centre-forward.
- Having impressed in a deeper centre-forward role for Serie A side Sassuolo, Barcelona secured Boateng’s services for a €1m loan fee with the option to purchase for €8m at the end of the season.
- The player initially played for Germany, his country of birth, up until U21 level. In 2010 he switched his allegiance to Ghana after stating that he better identifies with that part of his heritage.
- Barcelona were linked with Fernando Llorente, Carlos Vela and Cristhian Stuani but Boateng’s ability in the false-nine and his clear physical attributes helped him stand out.
- At the age of 31 and with almost 400 professional appearances, Boateng will bring a seasoned presence to Barcelona’s already established front line.
After reports that Setien had encouraged the Catalan giants to sign Boateng surfaced earlier this week, the Real Betis coach was quick to dismiss these claims.
Setien, according to Marca, told reporters on Wednesday: “I am astonished by the audacity of some media that say that.
“I have not been called by anyone from Barcelona (to ask about Boateng) but yes, it seems to me an extraordinary signing, of course.
“He gave us a lot of things, he contributed a lot of things, he is a committed player, he is a good player, Barcelona has made a good signing, without a doubt.”
Setien has been lauded for his dynamic and exciting brand of football at Real Betis, but it was at Las Palmas, where he saved the club from relegation and secured them an 11th-place finish, that he began to draw attention to his unique managerial style.
An incredibly tactically astute manager and one known for voicing honest opinions about players and potential transfers, the rumour seemed plausible to many.
Despite its falsehood, Setien still acknowledged the player’s quality in a career that has oscillated between top-tier clubs and lower level ones, moving between Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Dortmund, Portsmouth and Milan (with a few other stops on the way).
So why did Valverde sign Boateng?
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has made it clear that Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez will need to rest if they are to mount a challenge across all competitions. In his view, Boateng has the versatility and La Liga knowledge to facilitate this.
Deployed at Sassuolo as a false-nine, dropping deeper and linking up with the midfield, Boateng has shown exactly what Barcelona’s well-honed attack could do with – a player to function in transitional movements and provide a supply for the strikers.
Valverde has publicly defended the signing, saying: “He knows the trade, a player who, having made a career in other positions, now plays as a number nine, he knows La Liga and the role he is playing in.”
Although the expectations aren’t as high as with Valverde’s previous signings, Boateng still has it all to prove.
He’s never played alongside the quality Barcelona possess and that alone represents an opportunity.