Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has sprung to the defence of the Catalans' summer transfer policy - despite their unsuccessful attempts at luring Phillipe Coutinho from Liverpool to replace Neymar.
Bartomeu's management has been heavily criticised over the summer following the unexpected departure of the Brazilian ace to Paris Saint-Germain.
The La Liga giants have missed out top targets like PSG star Marco Verratti and Liverpool ace Coutinho and have been accused of overpaying to get Paulinho and Ousmane Dembele in deals respectively worth €40m (£36.6m, $47.7m) and €105m plus add-ons.
Furthermore, Barcelona have also failed to get rid of some out-of-favour players likes Arda Turan and Andre Gomes – while Jeremy Mathieu was released as a free-agent after agreeing to terminate his contract.
Bartomeu, however, believes that they can only be blamed for failing to predict Neymar's departure and for the unsuccessful clear-out.
"The first self-criticism was our belief in what the Neymars [his family] told us. We were wrong [about him wanting to stay]. When we found out, we reacted and made enquiries about Dembélé. We managed to sign him, but for a high price. Neymar's exit was a setback for our strategy," Bartomeu said during a in-depth review made with Sport and Mundo Deportivo.
"The second self-criticism has been our plan for outgoing players. We didn't get what we wanted and didn't meet our expectations. We had planned for certain players to leave who ended up staying".
Nelson Semedo and Gerard Deulofeu have also arrived at the Nou Camp alongside Paulinho and Dembele to bolster Ernesto Valverde's squad. Fans and pundits in Spain are predicting that they won't be enough to end the current dominance of Real Madrid in the European football but Bartomeu said that current squad is already better than the one they had last season under Luis Enrique.
"We wanted two players – a right back and a midfielder. We got Semedo, a young, promising player, and Paulinho, who brings strength. We also recovered Deulofeu, a home grown lad. His return shows how much faith we have in our youth system. The unexpected signing was Dembélé, because we didn't plan for Neymar leaving, but we are happy with the replacement," the Barcelona president stated.
"We would have liked to add Coutinho but we said no to the price that Liverpool were asking. Signing him would have rounded off the team, but we still think it's good enough and competitive enough to contend for everything".
Yet, Bartomeu believes that Neymar's departure could eventually be an opportunity for Valverde to shape a more balance line-up.
"We have to stick together if we want to win everything. We have great players and this is a better team than last season. People are excited about what they see. Our players are what we have got and they have huge potential. I sense a lot of pessimism and we need to end it," Bartomeu added.
"People are saying that Neymar's departure has weakened us, but I see it as an opportunity to strengthen the team. We won't have the full 'trident', but we will have better balance on the field."