Following a hard-fought win against Real Madrid in the first leg of the Copa del Rey, Barcelona may have found their mojo back. But their off-the-pitch financial predicaments don’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon.
The Catalan giants’ financial issues are well-documented, and they now face a race to procure the necessary funds in time to have any impact on the upcoming summer window.
The current reality:
Barcelona has been walking on a tightrope for a couple of years now, but they managed to avert disaster last season, by pulling some controversial “economic levers” in order to afford some outlays. But a failure to remain in the Champions League, as well as being knocked out of the Europa League by Manchester United, has tightened an already tight screw at the club. The club is thought to be in a debt to the tune of £1 billion.
Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, Franck Kessie, Hector Bellerin and Marcos Alonso were last summer additions to the team. It now looks like they will be stuck with that for some time as La Liga Chief, Javier Tebas, says it will be ‘practically impossible’ for Barcelona to sign this summer.
As of today, Barcelona doesn’t have any room in its budget to spend in the upcoming transfer window.” Javier Tebas, who confirmed this on Thursday in London during the Financial Times Business of Football summit, said:
“Barcelona has been involved in questionable behaviour which has had an impact on LaLiga and we are acting accordingly. We have ruled that they can no longer sign more players.
“They sold off £620m (€700m) in TV rights and tried to find different ways to solve the situation but they won’t be able to do that next season. We have strict economic controls. At the end of each window, we tell all the clubs in La Liga what they can spend.
“In the case of Barcelona, they have to drop spending on wages and transfers from £532m to £399m (€650m to €450m), so it’s budget of minus £177m (€200m).
“They have to reduce their investment in players and we have encouraged them to sell players because, for every amount they raise in sales, they can spend 40 per cent of that.”
Xavi’s side is seven points clear at the top of La Liga but has crashed out of the Champions League and Europa league. He will be looking to improve his team ahead of next season. But to do that, he will need to sell a considerable number of players.
Looking for money:
The first place they will be looking for funds is from the sale of their unwanted fringe players. Barcelona failed to move a couple of such players last season, with Coutinho and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the only two they managed to let go.
They will be looking to make loans – Samuel Umtiti (Leece), Clement Lenglet (Tottenham), Alex Collado (Elche), Sergino Dest (AC Milan) and Hector Bellerin (Sporting Lisbon) are all available for permanent transfers, in order to free up wage space. But that’s just a little fraction of what they will be looking at, as they will need to sell more valuable first-team players too.
Frenkie de Jong is the first of such players. The Dutchman was subject to a high-profile transfer saga involving Man United throughout last summer, with the player refusing to leave the Nou Camp. His impressive audition over both legs in the Europa League knockout loss to United is a testament to why they kept coming for him.
Eric ten Hag might fancy his chances again this time, as the Red Devils boss has appeared keen to reunite with his former Ajax star.
Raphinha looked set to join either Chelsea or Arsenal from Leeds United last summer before Barcelona hijacked the player in a £55 million deal. Ferran Torres has also been linked to a move back to the premier league, after struggling to settle down in Spain. Barcelona won’t mind cashing in on any suitable offers for any, or both of them.
Xavi is unlikely to sign off on selling talented youngsters, but older players on long contracts could suit the financially-stricken club.
However, they can only be able to spend two-fifths of any amount they are able to raise in the next transfer window, meaning their budget would only be a maximum of around £71 million.