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New Barca signing Nelson Semedo: 'Barcelona was always my first option'

Gab Marcotti assesses Barcelona's addition of Semedo and what it says about how they will play under Ernesto Valverde.
Lionel Messi admits he is looking forward to playing under new Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde.
Ernesto Valverde received the backing from quite a few notable Barcelona players ahead of the 2017/18 season.

Nelson Semedo didn't think about any other offers once he learned of Barcelona's interest, the Portuguese said after joining the Catalan club from Benfica in a deal worth an initial €30 million on Friday.

Semedo, 23, moves to Barca on a five-year deal as the Camp Nou club hope they've finally ended their search for a new right-back following the departure of Dani Alves last summer.

Both Manchester United and Manchester City had also been linked with the Portugal international, but he was determined that his destination would be Barcelona.

"Barcelona was always my first option," he said at his presentation when asked about City and United's interest. "I didn't even think about any other offers. All players want to play for Barcelona and I'm no exception. I was really excited when I heard they wanted to sign me.

"I am very proud to wear this shirt and I will do everything I can for this club. I already knew what a great club it is, but I have realised even more so today. I'm really happy the deal has been pushed through."

Barca sounded out a variety of right-back options before settling on Semedo, with Arsenal's Hector Bellerin, who left the club as a teenager, among their other targets.

Nelson Semedo holds the trophy after Benfica won their 36th league title.
Nelson Semedo didn't think twice about joining Barcelona after learning of their interest.

Speaking alongside Semedo at his presentation, sporting director Robert Fernandez refused to be drawn on whether the club had landed their first option.

"I don't like talking about first options," he said. "I've never looked at things as Plan A, Plan B. ... Nelson's name came up very early because he has the physical and technical attributes we need and I don't think he will have any problems adapting to the club.

"Yes, we did look at other players, but Nelson was a player we'd watched for a long time and finally we decided that he was the one we wanted. We chose him because he's young, has a big future ahead of him and has been playing at the top level for a year and a half."

Barca could end up paying €35m for Semedo based on performance-related add-ons, but with Man City paying around €50m for Kyle Walker, a world record fee for a defender, Fernandez is happy with the deal the Blaugrana managed to negotiate with Benfica.

"When you go into the transfer market, if you're looking for a young, international player with Champions League experience there's going to be a price to pay," he added.

"Lots of teams are looking for the same things as us and right-back is a key area in the market at the moment. A player went in England this week [Walker] for a lot of money, so that shows how difficult it is. So in the case of Nelson, we did a good job [getting him for that price]."

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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