Football

Barcelona facing fight to keep hold of Leo Messi and Neymar

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Barcelona are the envy of world football at the moment, but their incredible success on the pitch is coming at a huge financial cost; one that could eventually force them to sell one of their prized assets.

The Daily Mail's Spanish football reporter Pete Jenson has written an extensive piece about the trouble that is currently brewing in the Nou Camp boardrooms.

Although they are still floating above water, there are a few worrying scenarios that could play out in the coming months that could not only see the current board forced out, but also see Leo Messi or Neymar leave for the Premier League.

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Financial crisis is not a word usually associated with a football club turning over £482million last season, one of the highest in the world. But despite huge incomes, their astronomical wage bill prevented them from making a profit last season, despite winning the Champions League, La Liga, and the Copa del Rey.

For example, Barcelona paid Messi £2.8million in bonuses last season, bringing his total annual wage to £17.6m. Similar bonus clauses are inserted into most of their first-team, meaning last season's wage bill accounted for 73 per cent of revenue. That is so far above what is allowed that club rules will force the board to quit if it is not brought down within two years.

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Drastic cuts needed

But cuts will have to made elsewhere as both Neymar and Messi are in line for new contracts in the coming months. Neymar's is far more urgent as his £135m release clause is considered vulnerable to the big spenders of Manchester United, City and even Real Madrid. He will demand a huge increase on his £9.9m annual wage while Messi is also set to be granted an even bigger bonus clauses on his basic £14.8m wage.

Not only that, but Barcelona are also set to commit £423m to a stadium renovation, which will see the Nou Camp transformed into a 105,000-seater arena complete with a roof. A new basketball arena will also be built along with a new stadium for the B team.

But while things on the pitch are going swimmingly, the commercial team are failing spectacularly. Indeed, they still have no shirt sponsor for next season after talks with Qatar Airways over a £40m-a-season deal stalled. They have also failed to coax Nike into early talks for the shirt manufacturer deal, which, at £21m-a-season, is not due for renewal until 2018.

The power of money

And all the while the Premier League is growing more and more powerful. Both Manchester City and Manchester United now have the capacity to finance a deal for either Neymar or Messi and there is real concern one of them will succeed in doing it.

United tried and failed to sign Neymar in the summer, mainly because the Brazilian wanted to stay in Barcelona and it's not because Ed Woodward refused to meet the release clause. In fact, all the signs indicate that the Red Devils were more than willing to do so.

If Neymar doesn't get the contract he wants then he could well give Manchester United the green light next summer. But Barcelona may not have the cash to offer him the deal he deserves.

They are already facing the prospect of being unable to compete for the world's biggest stars. For someone like Paul Pogba, who is likely to cost €100m, Barcelona stand next to no chance. They don't expect to have that sort of money available for at least several years.

The report even states that Barcelona could miss out on Nolito if Arsenal agree to meet his €17m clause, simply because they do not have that sort of money to spend this January.

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Topics:
Neymar
Manchester City
La Liga
Premier League
Football
Lionel Messi
Barcelona
Manchester United

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