Barcelona hoped this would be the week they'd finalise Matthijs de Ligt's move from Ajax. the player, in various conversations, assured the club he wanted his future resolved before the UEFA Nations League finals, which he will take part in with Holland.
Barça are no longer hiding that negotiations have become complicated due to the huge offers received from elsewhere and the issue is not close to a solution. Anything could happen, but Barça continue to play their cards in the hope De Ligt will opt for their sporting project.
STRATEGY DE LIGT
Barça feel it was an error not to sign De Ligt in April, but the reality is it was not possible then. The Dutchman confirmed his desire to move to Camp Nou, but the strategy from the player, and his agent, Mino Raiola, was to wait.
They delayed any deal as De Lige continued to excel in the Champions League and communicated to Barça that the money would have to go up because the scene had changed.
Barça have tried to convince De Ligt again, making it clear he will be a big player for the present and the future. In fact, he had no doubts about his role at the club, but he has received some big offers from elsewhere (some almost doubling Barça's).
Given the new situation, De Ligt has always made it clear his preference is to sign for Barça but is hoping for a final gesture from the club to push the deal over the line. Evidently, that gesture is an improved offer on what was discussed in April.
The Blaugrana analysed all aspects of the operation and, finally, decided not to go above the market price. In recent days, they have told the player's people they will not budge, save on some details, and that they hope the player signs for them.
It's not true that the main problem is the commission to be paid to agent Raiola. It's clear that his commission goes up if the player's wages are higher, but Raiola is only fighting for De Ligt to have the best possible contract, be that with Barça or any other team.
The relationship with the agent is fluid, although the club recognise he's a hard negotiator. Raiola is convinced Barça can make one final effort.
For now, De Ligt's not confirmed or denied anything. It's not an easy situation for him, given he saw himself at Barça. He must decide whether to accept a higher offer or to move to Barça, the club he's said he wants to join, and follow friend and Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong.
Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu considered De Ligt an important signing. For that reason, he's personally handled the deal. Let's see what happens after the Copa del Rey final. De Ligt will join up with Holland weighing up his decision. There's not a lot of optimism at Barça right now, but anything can happen.