Girona director Quique Carcel has admitted he targeted the signing of Oriol Romeu from Premier League club Southampton “as a joke”.
Romeu joined the Saints in 2015 from Premier League rivals Chelsea for around £6million.
He established himself as a crucial player under several managers but was allowed to leave this summer following the signing of Romeo Lavia from Manchester City.
Lavia picked up an injury a day before Romeu’s departure, however, Southampton stayed true to their word and sanctioned the experienced Spaniard’s departure.
Speaking after his move to Girona was confirmed, Romeu actually thanked the Saints for allowing him to leave.
“Until last night there was a lot of back and forth and it wasn’t easy for the last ten days,” he told AS on September 2.
“But thanks to the two clubs an agreement was reached. With Lavia’s injury there were doubts, but they have been flexible and prioritised my wish, I am grateful to Southampton.
“I have had an unbeatable experience and sensations there. I will keep great memories.
“I’m happy to live this new adventure and I hope I can leave here, in many years, in the same way.”
Speaking during his unveiling as a player, Romeu said: “The main reason for coming is to help Girona, because the project is ambitious and I want to help the club to settle in the first division.
“My experience can help a lot and I hope I can also give my best version from day one.
“The club’s intention and proposal is for me to be a player who contributes a lot inside and outside. I consider it a positive thing.
“When I accept this challenge I am clear about what I am coming to. It motivates me and excites me.”
And Girona’s director, Carcel, may still be pinching himself after completing the signing of Romeu – who scored an 88th-minute winner for his side against Real Valladolid last week.
Carcel was clearly not confident he would be able to complete the signing of the established Premier League midfielder.
The Girona chief admitted he first made Romeu a transfer target “as a joke” because he know it would be a very ‘difficult’ deal to pursue.
“I put Oriol on the board from the first day as a joke, because of the difficulty,” Carcel said (via Sport Witness).
Even when initial contacts were made with the midfielder’s representatives, he admitted a deal seemed “unfeasible”.
However, Romeu was obviously chuffed with the fact Girona had made him a target early on in the summer transfer window.
Carcel has revealed that the 30-year-old “did a lot” to make sure the transfer materialised.
“When we spoke with his representative, the thing seemed unfeasible.
“The fact that we contacted him from the first day made Oriol think about it and the player did a lot to be here, it was the key.
“It is also important to have Pere Guardiola and Manchester City behind, precisely to accompany these signings.”