FC Barcelona have been among the most active of Europe’s top clubs this transfer window and a look at the money they have parted with must have Manchester United scratching their heads in their pursuit of Frenkie de Jong.
It has been widely acknowledged that the Catalan giants have financial issues owing to years of lavish spending under Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The €100m mark was broken on three occasions by the former president, for Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Phillipe Coutinho as he scrambled to save face after Paris Saint-Germain activated Neymar’s release clause.
And the current president Joan Laporta has been quick to criticise his predecessor for an “unjustifiable” use of “disproportionate payments” and “lies” in giving him a “terrible inheritance” to sort out.
Due to 103% of the club’s income being spent on player salaries, the president pointed out that “the first thing we had to do when we arrived was to ask for a loan of €80m because otherwise, we could not pay the salaries.”
But make no mistake, Laporta is a politician, and political strategy 101 is to find a target for the ire of your supporter base to avoid vitriol for your own actions, even if they happen to be the same.
And like all politicians, Laporta is good for a slogan. He has managed to convince socios at Barca to vote for the stripping of club assets under the guise of “activating economic levers,” with no regard for the long term effects of such decisions.
News emerged yesterday that Barca are looking to hijack Chelsea’s pursuit of Jules Kounde in a deal worth an initial €55m.
Jules Koundé. While Sevilla sources deny any agreement with FCB as negotiations are ‘only with Chelsea’, Barcelona are preparing an official bid to try and hijack the deal – as @gerardromero reports 🚨🇫🇷 #FCB
Chelsea, still waiting for Sevilla/Jules “green light” since Thursday. pic.twitter.com/CEaNH3qoZy
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 23, 2022
That would take spending to €213m in this calendar year according to tranfermarkt.com.
Perhaps more pertinent is that is that new players have taken Barcelona’s wage total up a further €72.8m per annum (capology.com), before considering Kounde, or the new contracts handed out to Gavi, Pedri and Dembele, or the fact that they have been slow in getting substantial players off the books.
It is little wonder that Frenkie de Jong feels that his current club should be doing more to compensate him for a deferral agreement over wages that has left him €20m out of pocket, given Barcelona have decided that they don’t want to honour that contract now that it’s time to pay up.
But should any of this come as a surprise the Dutchman?
After all, this is a club that owes 19 other clubs a combined total of €126m in transfer fees – they’ve yet to actually pay for Phillipe Coutinho, despite having just taken €20m off Aston Villa for him four years on.
In the last few years, the Red Devils have often made player recruitment a royal pain in the posterior, but on this occasion, the messy, entangled situation that is the De Jong pursuit has absolutely nothing to do with Manchester United.