Barcelona claim that Liverpool were willing to sell Philippe Coutinho on the Spanish transfer deadline day.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Barcelona’s director of professional sports Albert Soler said the Merseyside club demanded €200 million (£185m) to make the deal happen.
Soler said: ‘Yesterday, after weeks of offers and talks, Liverpool valued a player we wanted at €200m. We decided against that.’
Barcelona were under pressure to make a big-name signing following the departure of Neymar, but Soler claims the Brazilian’s acrimonious £198m move to PSG made signing a replacement even harder.
He continued: ‘The fact he activated a clause unilaterally and left for €222m (£198m) caused everyone to know that we had money. We managed to avoid jeopardising the club’s heritage and finances. We won’t play in this inflated market.’
Failure to land Coutinho has placed the board under even more pressure with tensions among fans already at boiling point.
In an attempt to justify their actions in the window, technical secretary Robert Fernandez claimed Ernesto Valverde still has a squad capable of challenging for top honours.
He said: ‘We have a fantastic squad and the new arrivals will help us to compete and maintain our standards.’
Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) had previously released a statement insisting the wantaway Coutinho was not available at any price.
However, it appears their stance changed in the final hours of the transfer window, although their demands were seen as prohibitively high and ultimately caused talks to break down.
Coutinho had made no secret of his desire to move to the Nou Camp, handing in a written transfer request and failing to play in their first three Premier League games of the season.
Barcelona were willing to pay over £100m to sign Coutinho and offered a package similar to the one given to Borussia Dortmund in exchange for Ousmane Dembele.
The Spanish club agreed a financial package worth £138m for Dembele with £96m paid upfront.