It’s no exaggeration to say that Barcelona currently have a major crisis on their hands.
The Catalan giants have been active in the transfer market this summer, bringing in the likes of Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal. The problem is that, at present, none of them can actually play!
It was reported earlier this week that Barcelona have breached the salary cap limit imposed by La Liga, meaning that the new faces can’t be officially registered to represent the club in competitive action.
Worse still, Barcelona cannot sign all-time record goalscorer Lionel Messi to a new contract. The 34-year-old Argentinian’s existing deal expired last week, meaning that he is currently a free agent. By all accounts, Messi wants to remain at the Nou Camp next season. However, he cannot put pen-to-paper on a fresh agreement until president Joan Laporta stabilises the club’s long-term financial position.
And we aren’t talking about pocket change, either. Estimates suggest that Barcelona are some €200 million short of falling in line with the salary restrictions. If they want to keep hold of Messi, some serious changes need to be made.
Club chiefs have already begun to make a dent in the massive deficit by offloading Junior Firpo (to Leeds United), Konrad de la Fuente (to Marseille) and Jean-Clair Todibo (to Nice) from the wage bill. In addition, Francisco Trincao has joined Wolves on a season-long loan deal.
While those departures are a start, they are just the tip of the iceberg if Barcelona are to make the kind of savings they require.
Firpo and Trincao have found new homes in the Premier League, but could some of Barca’s bigger names also make the move to English shores?
The Mirror has outlined five of Blaugrana’s biggest earners, all of which the club would like to part ways with this summer. What, though, are the chances of these men lining up in the English top-flight next season?
Very slim – Sergio Busquets
The club might be keen to see the 32-year-old move on, but Busquets – who has spent his entire senior career at the Nou Camp – seems content to stay put.
If a switch is to be brokered, though, the MLS looks a far more probable destination for the Spanish international than England.
Slim – Samuel Umtiti
Barcelona have asked the French defender to rescind his contract, which is currently costing the club a whopping €20 million annually. So far, however, the 27-year-old is refusing to budge.
Manchester United and Arsenal have displayed interest in Umtiti in the past, but both now seem to have moved on. United are on the verge of capturing Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, while Arsenal are keen on a move for Brighton’s Ben White.
With Umtiti in no mood to cut his current employer any slack, it is unlikely that he will be seen in the Premier League any time soon.
Could happen – Miralem Pjanic and Ousmane Dembele
Bosnian midfielder Pjanic is another player that Ronald Koeman’s side have tried (unsuccessfully) to convince to rescind his contract. However, unlike Umtiti, there looks to be plenty of interest in the former Juventus man – who played just six times in La Liga for Barcelona last term.
Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea are all seemingly in the mix to secure his signature on a free transfer, per The Metro.
French forward Dembele has had plenty of admirers in England in the past himself. Manchester United and Liverpool are among those who have previously enquired about the 24-year-old. United are set to bring in Jadon Sancho, meaning they will be well-stocked in wide areas.
With that said, Dembele is an exceptional talent and it would be no surprise to see other Premier League clubs enter the fray and offer him a route out of Cataluna.
Should happen – Philippe Coutinho
The fact that Liverpool were able to command £142 million for Coutinho when he left for the Nou Camp in 2018 should tell you everything you need to know about the impact that the Brazilian had during his time on Merseyside.
Scoring 41 goals in 152 games for the club, Coutinho was a firm favourite with Reds supporters. Since departing Anfield, however, the 29-year-old has never recaptured the form which made him such a potent threat for Liverpool.
Now desperate to rid themselves of his €14 million annual salary, Barcelona are reportedly willing to let Coutinho go for a cut-price fee of around £30 million.
Given his prior Premier League exploits, might the reduced price tag encourage one of England’s top clubs to come in for Coutinho. If he can reproduce anything close to his Liverpool run, then that fee would be an absolute steal.
Barcelona will be hopeful of doing some more business with Premier League clubs this summer.