Roma president James Pallotta expressed anger at how Barcelona “unethically and immorally” signed Malcom when the Italian club already had an agreement with the player and his former club Bordeaux, saying they should offer Lionel Messi by way of apology.
The Giallorossi were expecting the Brazilian winger to arrive for a medical earlier this week only to learn his flight to the Eternal City had been cancelled after Barca made Bordeaux an improved offer.
Roma matched Barca’s bid, but the player signed for the Spanish club less than 24 hours later, much to the Serie A club’s sporting director Monchi’s anger, as he said he was considering legal action.
And Pallotta, though he may not have been fully serious about getting Messi as compensation, made clear his very real anger at the conduct of both Barcelona and Bordeaux in an interview with SiriusXM FC.
“They knew that this was done,” Pallotta said. “In point of fact yesterday they apologised to us about their actions and how they did things and I don’t accept the apology, I mean, at all.
“The apology, the only way I’ll except it is either one of two things. I mean at the end of the day, send [Malcom] to us, and you know that’s not going to happen.
“But maybe, as a goodwill gesture, at the very least they should send Messi to us.”
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Pallotta said there was “no question” Roma had a deal with Bordeaux, confirming the version of events his sporting director Monchi gave earlier this week.
“The deal was done,” Pallotta said. “We’re up at night and the kid doesn’t get on the plane. Bordeaux stops it and we find out all of a sudden Barcelona jumps into the mix, and in no question in my mind unethically and immorally.”
Pallotta said that while one of Malcom’s agents was telling Monchi that his client was getting on the plane, “meanwhile we’re hearing from other sources that one of the other agents — the Brazilian one of the four agents — is in Barcelona!”
The American businessmen also said Roma had gone so far as to agree on a €120 million buyout clause, and that other interested clubs like Everton and Leicester City were not involved in serious talks with Malcom’s representatives.
“I have no problem if we’re battling it out for a player with Inter or Bayern or whoever it is, and we’re all going through the process of trying to get to the player, fine. That’s the way it works,” he said.
“But at the end of the day when a deal is don and completely agreed upon? And some people say, ‘Oh it wasn’t formally signed.’ That’s bulls—. We all know how it works — the kid comes in for the medical and then the signing is done.
“That handshake and the agreement is done. Other teams know not to come in and do what Barcelona did. Bordeaux should’ve never been doing what they did, that was completely — I think it’s illegal not to mention unethical and immoral.”
Pallotta also said the Malcom incident fit a “pattern” of unscrupulous behaviour from Barcelona.
“In terms of Barcelona, it was just, you know, a pattern of the past few years of doing things that just should not be done at a club with what the reputation that I think Barcelona intends to have and to be,” he said.
Pallotta expects to go through with a legal case against Bordeaux for accepting another offer after a deal was agreed.
“If you just look at all the stuff that happened, you know, the deal was done,” Pallotta said. “And my view is Bordeaux, their actions, and we’ve already spoken to legal and you know I’m fairly certain that they’re going to be testifying on this and that there will be some litigation.”
Roma beat Barcelona in the quarterfinals of last season’s Champions League, winning 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico after a 4-1 defeat at Camp Nou. They are due to meet again in the International Champions Cup in Arlington, Texas, on Aug. 1.