Barcelona bought Yerry Mina for about £10m in January. It became clear very quickly that the player was not ready to contribute at one of the biggest clubs in the world, even though his potential is still there at just 23 years old. What Barca needed was a club where they could capitalize financially on the player’s notable World Cup for Colombia, (where he outscored Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi) and still keep the ability to bring the player back if he turned out well. In the end, with add-ons, the transfer fee came to around £28m, a handsome profit.
In Everton, the Catalonian giants had a blueprint for just such a move, having performed a similar operation with Gerard Deulofeu only recently (though the Spanish attacker’s return to Barcelona wasn’t exactly glorious, to the shock of exactly zero Everton fans). They also have good current relations with Everton thanks to the recent successful Lucas Digne transfer. More importantly, in the Toffees they had a moneyed Premier League club trying to improve its standing in the world of English football who desperately needed a centrehalf, an ideal situation to see whether Mina can cut it club level or not.
Timing became everything as Lyon entered the fray for the player. The English transfer window ends weeks before the French one, and so when Everton’s window closed Lyon would have all the leverage on Barcelona in terms of price because their primarily competition for Mina would be unable to further bid. In addition, OL has European football which is reportedly a big desire for the Colombian.
To make matters worse, France does not allow clubs to put buyback clauses into player’s contracts, which means that the Deulofeu style deal that Barca sought for Mina would be impossible. Unconfirmed rumours have it that the buyback amount is between £50-60m, which means that should Mina turn into a superstar, the Blues can get a John Stones-ish amount for him, while getting the best of him on the pitch as he develops as well.
Barcelona, before selling Mina, had five non-EU players on the books when La Liga only permits three. They had to get rid of two players and adding Clement Lenglet this summer pretty much sealed Mina’s fate.
It also looks like the Andre Gomes deal became part of the sweetener, as the fans had completely revolted against the Portuguese midfielder and his way back into their graces might only be through his absence for a year.
In the end, Yerry Mina will be an Everton player this season because Barcelona had just as much interest in convincing him to come here as Everton did, which is rare in world football. This should pay significant dividends for the Toffees this year, as we finally have a reliable starter to go alongside the (somewhat unfairly) maligned Michael Keane.