How can Barcelona sign players?

Barcelona in 2022 are a truly ridiculous entity. After years of financial mismanagement, a new era has dawned filled with new signings and potential outgoings.

July alone has seen Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen join on free transfers, Raphinha sign for €60m from Leeds, Ousmane Dembele finally agree to a new contract and Robert Lewandowski arrive after a bitter exit from Bayern Munich. And we haven’t even touched on the Frenkie de Jong soap opera yet.

So how are Barcelona financing their deals this summer as they look to return to the top of European football?

Why are Barcelona in debt?

Barcelona posted losses of £404m during the Covid-hit 2020/21 season, with the campaign played out without fans for the majority.

Paying the huge wage bill without any matchday income was part of the reason the club’s gross debt rose to £1.2bn – blame has often been attributed to former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who has maintained his innocence amid accusations of reckless spending. The former president dished out more than €1bn on transfers between 2014 and 2019, with very few turning out to be good deals.

When Joan Laporta was elected, he described the club as “clinically dead” and tough decisions were soon made. There was around €390m owed in player salaries and over €670m owed to banks.

Barça were unable to keep Lionel Messi due to La Liga salary cap regulations and fire sales were made during the 2021 summer, with Emerson Royal, Ilaix Moriba and Junior Firpo all fetching considerable fees.

Work was also done to get players on reduced salaries, with Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets among those to sign on reduced terms.

Business decisions off the pitch have been taken to give Barça more breathing space. Restructuring allowed the likes of Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to sign during the January transfer window.

Author: Lucy Green