The Recent Activities of FC Barcelona
Updated: Jan 15
As it was reported around the world, FC Barcelona is in a major financial crisis that brought the club and its fans to a new era of failure; thanks to the mismanagement of the officials working inside the club. These enabled Lionel Messi, the greatest football player of all time, to leave the club and join PSG in 2021. This article wants to shed a light to the recent managerial misdoings of the once great FC Barca.
A Tale of Mismanagement in Two Parts
First, the core of Barca’s financial struggles can be summed up with two points. One, the club is paying unnecessarily huge amounts of salaries to its players. Second, the money spent in recent transfer windows was completely out of balance. Football players have been bought for astronomical prices, and some of them already left (or are about to leave the club) for nowhere near their initial buying price. Two recent examples of this are Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho.
Griezmann was bought for around 120M Euros from Atletico Madrid, played two mediocre seasons, and was sent back to Atletico Madrid with a buy option of an outrageously low 40M Euros. When Barca bought him in 2019, the club took out a bank loan of 35M Euros and mortgaged 85M Euros of their future income, according to Liam Twomey. A degree in finance is not necessary to see what a disaster of a deal this turned out to be. His current market value of 50M Euros also shows what a significant drop his estimated worth has produced. For what it’s worth, I do not blame Griezmann for his somewhat poor form at Barca. A player cannot perform when the club is destabilized all the time, when there is a managerial change every four to five months (along with the entire coaching staff), and when the club is negotiating with other clubs to sell the player without even consulting with him.
Philippe Coutinho might find himself in a similar situation as Griezmann. Perhaps his suffering under Barca’s poor management was longer than the Frenchman Griezman's. He was brought to the club in 2018 from Liverpool for around 135M Euros to be the new playmaker of the new Barca generation. Unfortunately for him, Barca managers never found the best position for him to make an impression in the team, so they offloaded him on a loan basis first to Bayern Munich, and now to Aston Villa. His recent arrival to the Premier League might just be the right next step for him to find his old self with having Premier League experience. In Coutinho’s Aston Villa contract, there is a buyout option of around 33M Euros, which is more than 100M Euros less than for what he was bought for four years ago. The funny part is that in this case the amount does not even sound ridiculous as his current market value is just 18M Euros (compared to 4 years ago: 90M Euros). In my opinion, he made the right choice to leave FC Barcelona, and if the buyout option will be activated, he can finally leave this disastrous club for good.
The List Goes on
The list of mismanaged players only goes on in FC Barcelona’s case. For example, Emerson Royal was bought in the summer of 2021 in order to strengthen the squad’s right back position. He was being told by Barca that he would be one of the most important additions to the team since he was a long-term target of the club’s board. Less than two months later he was sold to Tottenham Hotspur for slightly more money, without ever getting a real chance to prove himself in La Liga. Another example is Yusuf Demir, an incredibly talented young offensive football player, who came in last summer on loan from Rapid Wien. FC Barcelona called him one of the pillars of their future. Unfortunately for him, his contract contained a clause that said his move to Barca would become permanent if he represents the club ten times on the playing field. I think you can all guess exactly how many matches he played for the almighty Blaugrana. Exactly nine times, so this clause would never be activated, which would have forced Barca to pay 10M Euros for him. Since then, his loan move has been terminated, and he went back to his old club, Rapid Wien.
Barca on the Brink of Bankruptcy?
The financial mismanagement of the club had impacts on the players’ salaries as well thanks to the La Liga-implemented salary cap. Until recently, FC Barcelona could not register its new signing, Ferrán Torres, to its squad list, because his salary would have made the overall wage of the team over the limit according to the salary cap. The club first had to reach agreement with one of its players (Samuel Umtiti), to lower his salary to register Ferrán. Multiple other players were also forced to make pay cuts in the recent past to prevent the club from bankruptcy, such as Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, and some others.
If Barca want to call themselves a top club ever again, they must make considerable changes in their management and handling of their own players. Players nowadays think twice before agreeing to join the Blaugrana, because there is no guarantee of them developing their game. Recent years have shown it is likelier for a Barca player to become worse and loose market value, than the opposite. If we want to see this team achieve great success like in the past, we can only hope that the problems mentioned above are dealt with rather sooner than later.