The Ligue 1 club eventually got Neymar this week, for a world-record €222million transfer fee.
La Liga had threatened to block the move, but Al-Khelaifi, speaking to RMC, says Barcelona did their best to push it through.
“When that [La Liga’s refusal] happened, Barcelona called me to say ‘come on, let’s do it together’.
“I told them we were ready. I want to thank Barca, their president, supporters, players, for everything they have done. They are one of the best clubs in the world.
“I started thinking about how to sign Neymar three years ago, and it took us a year to think about how to talk to him and Barcelona. Two weeks ago that operation really started.
“It was very complicated, we could not sleep a lot, the whole team, not only me, I thank my team for the work that has been done, many did not want to do it but we had a goal that was to sign Neymar. He’s here,” he said.