Barcelona technical secretary Robert Fernandez has ruled out a late move to sign Jean Michael Seri from Nice – giving Arsenal, Liverpool and other suitors fresh hope of securing his services before the transfer window closes on Thursday 31 August.
Seri, 26, has been tipped to move to the Nou Camp in recent times after it emerged that the Catalans had identified him as Marco Verratti's alternative to bolster the middle of the park.
Barcelona have also signed Paulinho from Guangzhou Evergrande, but reports last week claimed that the La Liga giants were also ready to activate Seri's €40m (£37m, $47.7m) release clause after the Champions League qualifier between Nice and Napoli played on Tuesday night (22 August).
However, on Wednesday morning it emerged that Barcelona had surprisingly abandoned their pursuit at the very last minute due to mysterious technical reasons.
On Monday morning Seri said that big clubs like Arsenal and Liverpool are also interested in his signing but he was still confident of completing a move to Barcelona before the transfer window closes. The midfielder pointed out that the deal only collapsed due to financial reasons amid suggestions that Nice demanded Barcelona pay in excess of €40m as the aforementioned release clause expired on 15 July.
"I want to be optimistic and think that there are still options [to join Barcelona before the transfer window closes]. Let the two clubs talk quietly again and come to an agreement. We are not talking about any club, where you are going to sign for money," Seri said to Mundo Deportivo when asked whether his dream move to Barcelona was completely off.
"I am wanted by big European clubs such as Juventus, PSG, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool... For example, Roma have made several offers. Roma is a good option but nothing compares to Barca. I'm going to say one thing very clear: I'm not afraid to join Barcelona. I have been a fan since I was a kid and I know the size of this great club."
However, Fernandez has now told Seri to forget about his dream move to the Nou Camp as Barcelona have decided to turn their attention to other targets.
"Seri is a good player but we have totally ruled him out," Fernandez said during a press conference held on Monday to unveil Ousmane Dembele as Barcelona's fifth signing of the summer. "We have analysed everything closely and prefer to strengthen other positions."
Fernandez's quotes could be a boost for Arsenal and Liverpool as Barcelona's decision paves the way for other suitors to try to complete his signing before Thursday. Seri missed Nice's weekend defeat to Amiens amid suggestions that he is still likely to leave the Ligue 1 side.
L'Equipe had previously reported that Arsene Wenger is a big fan of the player and the Arsenal boss may consider a late move to give a much-needed boost to the Gunners fans following Sunday's crushing 4-0 defeat to Liverpool.