Barcelona’s attempts to establish themselves once again as a force in La Liga and the Champions League this season have seen the heavily-indebted Catalans gamble with their future to enable a striking summer spending spree.
A year after being forced to let Lionel Messi go as eye-watering reported debts of 1.35 billion euros ($1.39 billion) crippled the club, Barcelona have spent 153 million euros on transfer fees alone to strengthen their squad, with Robert Lewandowski the most notable new arrival.
“That means winning trophies. That is our main objective.”
“Euphoria” was the headline on the cover of local daily Sport the same day.
Yet how Barcelona have gone about raising the funds to sign Lewandowski, as well as centre-backs Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen, AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, and Leeds United’s Brazilian winger Raphinha has raised eyebrows.
– Pulling levers –
The club sold 25 percent of their domestic television rights for the next quarter of a century to US investment firm Sixth Street for some 400 million euros.
In the space of a few weeks, 600 million euros had been brought in to fill the coffers.
On top of that, Barca signed the biggest sponsorship deal in their history with Spotify, bringing in a reported 435 million euros for the music streaming giant to feature on the club’s shirts and to have naming rights to the Camp Nou.
Only time will tell if mortgaging part of the club’s assets in exchange for an immediate influx of cash will bear fruit.
Yet, Barcelona are still waiting for La Liga to allow them to register their new signings, although they hope to be able to do so in time for the season.
The Catalans have been trying to persuade Frenkie de Jong to leave, with suggestions even made that a contract he signed in 2020 was not legal. The Dutch midfielder says he wants to stay.
On top of that, efforts have been made to persuade certain players, including Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets, to accept wage reductions.