Barcelona are nonetheless very a lot clown sneakers

Frenkie De Jong
Photograph: Getty Photographs

For those who had been asleep the previous 12 months and a half to 2 years (and we’re all jealous in the event you have been), this previous summer season most likely seemed fairly regular within the soccer world. The massive golf equipment have been all warring over numerous gamers from smaller golf equipment, and Barcelona received most of these races. They beat Chelsea to Robert Lewandowski. They beat…Chelsea to Jules Koundé. They beat…Chelsea to Raphina. They signed Andreas Christensen from…Chelsea. Okay, so it was largely Barcelona beating out Chelsea for signings. However additionally they did signal Franck Kessié from Milan, and there’s no signal that Chelsea have been fascinated with him. So there!

They’re additionally rumored to nonetheless need Bernardo Silva from Man Metropolis, or Marcos Alonso from…Chelsea (we or they will’t escape). All of this sounds par for the course for the way in which Barca has operated the previous decade or two.

Besides in the event you haven’t been in hibernation, you recognize that Barcelona has no cash. In truth, they’ve detrimental cash. Which signifies that all of the gamers we talked about above which have “signed” aren’t truly registered. They aren’t formally a part of Barcelona’s squad but, so far as La Liga is anxious. Which is curious, contemplating Barca’s first league game is Sunday. You’d wish to have gamers seven days out out of your first game. However Barca don’t. And what they’re doing to try to register them is bordering on the absurd or one thing out of satirical movie. You’ll be able to see the smash reduce from the press conferences saying all these signings to the followers on the first game questioning the place they’re and Barca officers denying they exist.

Their newest ploy to get round La Liga’s monetary guidelines and punishments is to declare Frenkie De Jong’s contract unlawful now, a felony act from the earlier Barcelona board, to allow them to annul it and get De Jong again to the contract he was on when he first signed in 2019. It’s complicated, and idiotic, however nothing with Barcelona is ever clean or sensical.

The issue extends from the identical downside Barca have had for 2 years now, in that their revenue isn’t sufficient to cowl their outlay, so La Liga isn’t letting them function like that. As you’re most likely nicely conscious of by now, Barca are some $1.42 billion in debt.

Barca have tried to treatment this downside this summer season by promoting as much as half of their future licensing arm and 1 / 4 of their TV rights for money proper now for practically $600 million. Nevertheless, which may not be sufficient for La Liga to sanction the registering of their new signings, they usually additionally must get their wage invoice down.

A variety of that latter effort has involved getting De Jong utterly off the books, which they haven’t been capable of do and De Jong doesn’t need. As we wrote earlier than, De Jong deferred wage in the course of the pandemic to the final two years left on his contract on the time, and two extra years that have been tacked onto the top of it to unfold these funds out. We’re in these now, and De Jong is owed round $18 million this 12 months and $22 million per season for the 4 after that. One of many predominant causes De Jong doesn’t need to go to Manchester United, apart from them being a whole mess with no Champions League soccer of their sights, is that United didn’t need to pay him $108.6 million over the following 5 years. De Jong, who volunteered for that momentary pay reduce when Barca have been in bother in the course of the pandemic, solely needs the cash he’s owed.

So Barca’s newest tactic is to try to declare the contract unlawful, blame it on the earlier board, and threaten everybody beneath the solar with authorized motion within the hopes that it’ll lastly annoy De Jong and his individuals sufficient to simply accept Chelsea’s provide (the place he apparently prefers to go if he has to go away in any respect). Not solely getting De Jong’s wages off the books, however getting $86 million in switch charges in return, would look awfully good to the Barca bean-counters at this level, which is clearly the endgame right here.

Was any of this crucial? In fact not. Barca might have taken their lumps and performed merchandise of their vaunted La Masia academy for a season or two, came upon what they really have, eschewed large transfers and massive salaries and acquired their home so as. It’s unlikely, given the weak nature of La Liga beneath themselves and Madrid, that they’d have even dropped out of the Champions League locations, however even when they’d, they wouldn’t have been shelling out the type of expenditures that Champions League revenue is required for. Gavi, Pedri, Araujo, Eric Garcia, Nico Gonzalez most likely might have saved Barca afloat at worst, and gotten priceless expertise for when Barca meant enterprise sooner or later.

However that’s not the way you win elections to run the membership, and it’s not the way you keep there as soon as you probably did, so that you get Joan Laporta channeling his inside Tony Khan and signing no matter he can discover, whether or not he has a spot for it or not. Or the cash or it or not. The clock is ticking, and Barca are operating out of TV rights and video manufacturing firms to promote. And but you may’t escape the sensation that they’ll get away with it, as a result of La Liga isn’t truly going to allow them to exit of enterprise and take many of the league with it.

Identical Barca, identical because it ever was. 

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