Martin Braithwaite unveiled at EMPTY Nou Camp after controversial £16m move to Barcelona as Middlesbrough flop seals ‘dream’ switch from relegation threatened Leganes – and admits it was a ‘surprise’
Martin Braithwaite sealed a dream move from Leganes to Barcelona this week, but the former Middlesbrough forward was not afforded a hero’s welcome at the Nou Camp.
Barca fans are used to filling the historic stadium to celebrate the arrival of a marquee signing. However, only photographers, club officials and Braithwaite’s family members were present as he performed kick-ups on the hallowed turf.
La Liga controversially allowed the reigning champions to complete the £16million move as an emergency signing, and the unveiling was performed behind closed doors as the 28-year-old penned a four-year deal.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu (L) and sport director Eric Abidal (R) pose with Danish striker Martin Braithwaite after he signed a four-and-a-half-year deal
The 28-year-old was given a behind-closed-doors unveiling at the Nou Camp on Thursday
Only photographers, club officials and the player’s family witnessed the presentation
Barca are thought to have agreed the deal, conducted the medical and unveiled the player all within 24 hours, indicating the club’s urgency after Ousmane Dembele was ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Braithwaite said: ‘At first I was surprised by Barça’s interest, but for many years it was something that I had dreamed of.
‘I had the ambition to play at that level. I always believed in it. If you are positive, you work hard and you pray, everything is possible.’
Barcelona’s new No 19 poses for the cameras with his wife Anne-Laure Louis at the Nou Camp
Barca and La Liga have come under fire after the ’emergency signing’ was completed
The Denmark forward has scored six of bottom-club Leganes’ 18 league goals this season and the club’s general manager Martin Ortega has criticised Barca and the division’s governing body over their handling of the transfer.
‘We consider that there is a regulation that is unfair, from which Barcelona has benefited,’ Ortega said.
‘The one who is damaged by this is Leganes. We want to raise our voice. The damage is enormous.
‘We do not understand the current regulation in any way. That a team, because a long-term player is injured, may unilaterally, transfer that problem 100 per cent to Leganes.
‘Barcelona knows the damage it can do with the signing of Braithwaite. We believe that there is a regulation that is not fair. FC Barcelona has benefited from that regulation. The injured party is Leganes.’
The Denmark international heads the ball for the cameras after completing a £16m transfer
Braithwaite scored just nine goals in 40 appearances for Championship club Middlesbrough