Las Palmas' Mauricio Lemos: I rejected Barcelona move last summer

Las Palmas defender Mauricio Lemos has told La Republica he turned down the chance to sign for Barcelona last summer in order to focus on developing as a player.

Lemos, 21, will come up against Barca at the Estadio Gran Canaria on Sunday, but he could have been playing for Luis Enrique's side had he accepted an offer to move to the Camp Nou.

However, he says that he felt being fourth-choice centre-back behind Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano would have hindered his career.

"The sporting director [Robert Fernandez] told me [Barca] were interested and that they were willing to give me an opportunity," Lemos said.

"But I was in contract talks with Las Palmas because I was only on loan from Rubin Kazan [with an option to buy] and if I didn't sort things out I'd have had to go back to Russia. It was a tough summer. I didn't know where my future would be.

"I spoke about it with my family and decided not to go [to Barcelona]. I felt it was for the best. Many players go due to the name of the club, but what are they going for? If one day I move to a big club like that, my intention is to be a regular."

Lemos said money had nothing to do with the decision, adding: "The offer didn't convince me. We weren't talking about money, strictly football -- I am not thinking about money right now, just about growing as a player.

"I came from Russia to a team where I can do that. Las Palmas gives me the opportunity to show what I can do. I want to keep getting better and if I go to another team, it will be to keep playing and getting minutes."

The uncertainty over Lemos' future affected him at the start of the season, having made his loan move from Kazan permanent in the summer, and he was in and out of the Las Palmas team in the first half of the campaign.

But he managed to re-establish himself in Quique Setiens' team, even playing as a holding midfielder on occasions.

In 25 appearances he has scored five goals, with three of them coming from outside the area, and he has no regrets about turning down the chance to move to Barca.

"Of course, I know they're a great team and any player would want to play there, but sometimes you have to leave to one side what the team represents and think about yourself," he said.

"I knew that at Barcelona I wouldn't get minutes. I don't have any regrets. I made my decision and I stand by it. It's my future and I am going to write it myself."