Barcelona’s summer spending is questionable. That also applies to the fiasco from a season ago when Lionel Messi departed. Simultaneously, it came out that Barcelona sat over a billion dollars in debt.
To be fair, it is always a challenge to juggle team building while constructing a competitive roster. Executives and coaches must bet on the present success, while also preparing for the future evolution of the side.
Frankly put, Barcelona does neither of these. The club’s brightest players, Pedri, Ansu Fati and Gavi, are homegrown talents. The club’s acquisitions can be good. Andreas Christensen fits a defensive need while Raphinha brings some depth and flair up top. Franck Kessié is a defensive midfielder that could step in for the potential departure of Frenkie de Jong.
Barcelona’s summer spending falls short of the rivals it battles frequently in European competition. Additionally, Real Madrid has answers for both the present and future across the pitch.
The Catalan club wants to hang around with the likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool or Bayern Munich. Yet, the financial crisis puts a stranglehold on the freedoms to acquire the great talents.
The Neymar Curse
Many of those struggles date back to Neymar’s shock transfer to Paris Saint-Germain five years ago. Ironically, the second-leading scorer in Brazil national team history arrived at Camp Nou as Lionel Messi’s eventual successor. That never happened.
Now, the two are in Paris after the Blaugrana failed to register the greatest player in the club’s history. All this, despite Lionel Messi agreeing to a massive pay cut to help the club.
This summer, many players agreed to take hefty pay cuts to help the team navigate its debut. For instance, Ousmane Dembele and Sergio Roberto, both at the club for extended time, lessened their wages.
However, one player is hesitant to cut his wages. Some believe Barcelona want to force him out to make registration room for Christensen, Kessié and Raphinha.
The Telegraph reports Barcelona owes Frenkie de Jong $20 million in deferred wages and bonuses. Barcelona wants to offload the midfielder to a different club, with Manchester United being a potential suitor. According to reports, a transfer fee could be in the realm of $84 million, including add-ons. For Barcelona, a transfer of the Dutchman saves the club $42 million, according to Mundo Deportivo.
Club director Mateu Alemany alluded to the fact that Barcelona may have to sell de Jong. Reason being the financial fair play rules. However, club president Joan Laporta stated Frenkie de Jong is still part of the potential plans at Barcelona.
“It is not true that the club is forced to sell Frenkie De Jong. His trip to the U.S. will be decided by Xavi,” Laporta said in a press conference.
The club wants to sell de Jong to Manchester United for a package worth $84 million. Reports estimate that de Jong’s departure would save the club $42 million per year.
For what it is worth, Frenkie de Jong does not want to leave Barcelona. He is the only thing holding back the deal between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Frenkie de Jong prefers the draw of the UEFA Champions League, something Manchester United is not in for next season. Manchester United does have a familiar face at the helm for Frenkie de Jong. Erik Ten Hag, the new manager at Old Trafford, coached de Jong during most of his time with the senior squad at Ajax.
De Jong is clearly a gifted playmaker who can carry the ball into dangerous positions. From there, progressive passes feed lackluster striking options.
However, Xavi looks set to stick with the young talents of Pedri and Gavi in the middle of the park. Plus, Nico Gonzalez and Franck Kessié seem lack natural replacements in the middle.
The 26-time LaLiga winners have more targets in the transfer window. For that to happen, other players must go. USMNT representative Sergiño Dest had rumors swirling. Yet, he stated publicly that he plans on staying.
Then, Barcelona targets Robert Lewandowski, who is still among the best strikers in the world. The 33-year-old, who turns 34 in August, reportedly told Bayern Munich that he wanted to leave. In a reverse situation to Frenkie de Jong, Bayern Munich refuses to sell him. Lewandowski remains in training with Bayern Munich, with the Bavarians desiring $50 million in a transfer fee. Barcelona submitted a new offer just ahead of the weekend.
César Azpilicueta is another player on the wish list. Another somewhat aging player who turns 33 next month, the defender can still provide a versatile role.
Despite the financial woes, Barcelona’s summer spending mirrors that of a win-now team seeking a league or Champions league trophy for the first time since 2019.
Cash Rules Everything Around Me
Barcelona’s financial issues required their famous stadium to be under a sponsorship for the first time in history. Officially, Camp Nou is under the moniker of Spotify Camp Nou. That same brand also appears on the men’s and women’s kits for the next four seasons.
Also, Barcelona sold 10% of its TV rights for the next 25 years to a U.S. firm, Sixth Street. La Liga’s salary limit for the club in the upcoming season is -$144 million. It’s like an NBA team paying a penalty in the luxury tax for going over the salary cap.
In the end, it seems de Jong will leave Barcelona because of the compounding financial issues. Barcelona needs to cut its budget at the same time its competitors stack up on talents.
Getting out of debt will take decades. Barcelona must do whatever it takes to remain an elite club. It’s a delicate balance that requires tough decisions being made.
PHOTO: Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images
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