Barcelona are nonetheless very a lot clown footwear

Frenkie De Jong

Frenkie De Jong
Photograph: Getty Photographs

If you happen to had been asleep the previous yr and a half to 2 years (and we’re all jealous should you had been), this previous summer season most likely seemed fairly regular within the soccer world. The massive golf equipment had been all warring over varied 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 principally Barcelona beating out Chelsea for signings. However in addition they did signal Franck Kessié from Milan, and there’s no signal that Chelsea was eager about him. So there!

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

Besides should you haven’t been in hibernation, you recognize that Barcelona has no cash. In truth, they’ve unfavorable cash. This implies 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 worried. This is curious, contemplating Barca’s first league recreation is Sunday. You’d prefer to have gamers seven days out out of your first recreation. However Barca doesn’t. And what they’re doing to attempt to register them is bordering on the absurd or one thing out of a satirical movie. You may see the smash reduce from the press conferences asserting all these signings to the followers on the first recreation 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 prison 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 has 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 by now, Barca is 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, that may not be sufficient for La Liga to sanction the registering of their new signings, they usually additionally must get their wage invoice down.

Numerous 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 his wage throughout the pandemic to the final two years left on his contract on the time, and two extra years that had been tacked onto the tip of it to unfold these funds out. We’re in these now, and De Jong is owed round $18 million this yr and $22 million per season for the 4 after that. One of many essential causes De Jong doesn’t wish to go to Manchester United, aside from them being an entire mess with no Champions League soccer of their sights, is that United didn’t wish to pay him $108.6 million over the subsequent 5 years. De Jong, who volunteered for that short-term pay reduce when Barca was in hassle throughout the pandemic, solely desires the cash he’s owed.

So Barca’s newest tactic is to attempt to declare the contract unlawful, blame it on the earlier board, and threaten everybody underneath 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 mandatory? 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 honestly have, eschewed large transfers and massive salaries, and obtained their home so as. It’s unlikely, given the weak nature of La Liga under themselves and Madrid, that they might have even dropped out of the Champions League locations, however even when they’d, they wouldn’t have been shelling out the sort of expenditures that Champions League revenue is required for. Gavi, Pedri, Araujo, Eric Garcia, and Nico Gonzalez most likely might have stored Barca afloat at worst, and gotten invaluable 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 internal 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 is working out of TV rights and video manufacturing firms to promote. And but you possibly can’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 a lot of the league with it.

Identical Barca, similar because it ever was.