Las Palmas loanee Sergi Samper wanted Barcelona chance
Sergi Samper has expressed his disappointment at having to go out on loan for the second season running, suggesting he was the player in the Barcelona squad best suited to be Sergio Busquets' understudy.
After last season's frustrating loan move to Granada, Samper returned to Barca in the summer and did preseason with the first team with the aim of establishing himself at the club he joined as a six-year-old.
However, after being left without squad number for the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid, the midfielder agreed to move to fellow La Liga side Las Palmas on a season-long loan earlier this month.
"My first option was to stay at Barca," he told RAC1. "I'd worked hard during the summer, I was in good shape and I had a good preseason.
"I hoped I would stay because there was no natural backup in Busquets' position."
Samper, 22, even suggested new Barca coach Ernesto Valverde was keen on keeping him around, but the addition of Paulinho to an already overcrowded batch of midfielders meant he was more likely to get minutes elsewhere.
"Valverde told me that he was counting on me, but there was a problem with [the amount of players signed to the first team], which left it up in the air," he added.
"It's difficult to leave when you've bet so hard on remaining at the club of your life. This time it wasn't as hard, but it's always tough to leave Barca. It's difficult not to get that opportunity, but you have to accept it."
As well as Las Palmas, Samper, who has previously interested Arsenal, says he had offers from abroad but he was keen to remain in Spain if possible.
"I focused on the coach [Manolo Marquez] and the style of play," he said. "I had offers from abroad, but my preference was to stay in La Liga and Las Palmas was the best option."
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.