Despite their four new summer signings, these are certainly very testing times to be a Barcelona fan right now. After a tumultuous season that saw the club disappointingly finish third in La Liga, this summer has been no different. Superstar Lionel Messi is currently a free agent and, on top of that, all of the new transfers are now reportedly in limbo.
Barca currently cannot register any of their new signings because they are over the La Liga salary cap, and with Messi out of contract, they wouldn’t be able to resign him either.
This is shaping up to be a very complicated, and confusing, summer for Barcelona and Joan Laporta, who’s now in damage control mode after the hole former president Josep Maria Bartomeu left him in.
Barcelona May Not be Able to Register New Signings Having Exceeded the Salary Cap
Several Unwanted High-Earners Refuse to Leave Barcelona
Barca have already shipped out Junior Firpo, Fransisco Trincao, Konrad de la Fuente and Jean-Clair Todibo, as well as releasing the ever-mysterious Matheus Fernandes. But that doesn’t even come close to the hole they have to fill.
With the club desperately needing to sell to clear the wage bill, Samuel Umtiti, Miralem Pjanic and Philippe Coutinho are the three who Barcelona want out immediately. In fact, Umtiti and Pjanic were both approached to leave the club for free and become free agents but they both refused.
Being comfortable making their bloated wages, despite not playing, their situation is similar to Mesut Ozil at Arsenal or Gareth Bale at Real Madrid. Coutinho, Barca’s most expensive signing at £142 million, is now being put on sale for just £20 million.
As a frame of reference, the club paid more than that as add-ons to Liverpool when he scored two goals in the Champions League, and they weren’t just not for Barcelona, they were against them – during his loan spell at Bayern Munich. This is so indicative of the financial situation Josep Maria Bartomeu has put the club in, making some of the worst moves ever seen in the transfer market.
Salary Gap is Bigger Than a Few Signings That Won’t Leave Barcelona
Even if Barcelona manage to sell the aforementioned three players, they still wouldn’t come close to clearing the wage cap. They need to shed €200,000 off their wage bill, but according to La Liga regulations, since they are over 110% of their allotted budget, only 25% of the money they free up can be used towards new signings.
This means that new signings like Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal would still not be able to sign, not to mention the mammoth wage of Messi, who of course brings in to Barcelona ten times the funds he earns.
The issue runs deeper than a few players who refuse to leave, and it could lead to a very chaotic summer. Nobody will be safe, particularly ageing veterans such as Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. All have said they’d be open to taking pay cuts, as has Messi himself, but it may not be enough. Barcelona will have to really consider their value to the club against their high wages.
Somebody like Ousmane Dembele would be tricky to sell with his injury history, so at the moment, their best bet looks to be Antoine Griezmann. It’d be very harsh on the Frenchman, who had a stellar end to the previous campaign, but he is just about the only player the club could sell for good money at this point, and it’s certainly worth consideration.
Griezmann undoubtedly wants to stay at the club and fight, but if the club have no other options, they may have to let him go.
If they are truly determined to balance the books, which they must be, it seems inevitable that we’ll see at least one high-profile player depart that wouldn’t have in other circumstances.
Barcelona Still Have Some Hope of Avoiding This Altogether
Despite the situation looking very bleak, nothing is set in stone just yet. Barcelona are confident that La Liga president Javier Tebas will act in accordance with other leagues and adopt some flexibility with the salary cap this year.
Because of Covid, many clubs have been hit financially, which has decreased their wage bills, so UEFA has committed to providing some financial leeway for clubs recovering from the effects of the pandemic.
It must be said that many of Barcelona’s issues do not stem from the lockdown, rather from Bartomeu’s ineptitude over the past five years, but it’s also true that Covid didn’t help and made everything worse.
Hopefully for Barcelona, Tebas and La Liga will show mercy. Otherwise, they are at risk of losing out on four valuable free-agent acquisitions, and most importantly, they are at risk of losing out on Messi.
Everything is very unclear as of now, but something wicked is brewing at the Camp Nou.