The source of the financial crisis in Barca

The continuous increase in salary for Lionel Messi sets a bad precedent for many other players to claim the same, causing Barca's salary fund to swell and lose control over the years.

“We are treating a terminal illness and are in the intensive care unit,” President  Joan Laporta  described Barca’s financial situation earlier this summer. “We need to activate the financial levers to survive and get out of the hospital.”

Barca  – one of the largest football clubs in the world – is still a mess with a debt of up to 1.5 billion USD, the consequences of the former President Josep Bartomeu. The day before kicking off La Liga against Rayo Vallecano last week, they were even able to register four of the five rookies recruited in the summer of 2022.

However, Barca is still the club that spends the most money in Europe in this summer’s transfer window with a total value of about 170 million USD, including the signing of Bayern’s main striker  Robert Lewandowski  and Leeds star Raphinha.

There have been many sarcastic comments, comparing Barca to someone who can’t pay 20 USD in debt, but then spends it comfortably while partying at the pub on a weekend night. Bayern coach,  Julian Nagelsmann  asked: “Barca is the only club that doesn’t have money, but can buy all the players they want. It’s crazy, weird”.

From there, the newspaper  Sportmail  questioned: “Why does a club with a long history like Barca go to the brink of collapse?  Why do they seem to decide that the way out of the crisis is to spend, spend, spend? and buy more players?”.

August 2021 marks the images that will forever haunt Barca fans:  Lionel Messi – one of the greatest football players in history – wipes tears with trembling lips because of the sadness of having to leave the club to leave the club. join PSG.

In the four years since the last contract extension in 2017, the Camp Nou owner has paid the Argentine star more than $ 560 million. When Messi’s salary tripled in ten years, Barca, whose slogan was “More than a club”, became like “Messi’s team”.

The 35-year-old striker just needs to publicly complain about a coach, and a few days later, the coach will be fired. The man who took over the hot seat at the Camp Nou came and asked Messi during the half-time break when Barca were struggling, “What are you going to do, Leo?”.


In his last years at Barca, Messi always had a decisive voice in choosing a coach. In the photo is a moment he discussed with coach Qique Setien 2020. Photo: Reuters

Jorge Messi knows the value of his son and, as an agent, negotiated an annual salary increase. Any Barca president would agree without hesitation. Failure to do so will result in fierce criticism from fans and shortened tenure.

“Messi, though without fault, is both the biggest asset, the symbol, but also the parasite of Barca”, Sportmail commented.

No one complained when Messi’s salary skyrocketed, sometimes even the highest in the world. But this also set a bad precedent, when teammates made similar claims. “Mr. President, bonus!”, the players shouted in front of Bartomeu – Barca’s president at the time – on the flight back to Catalonia after winning the 2015 Champions League.

Most of the Barca pillars have bonus terms based on performance in the contract. But they, after making a claim, were still agreed by Bartomeu to increase their salary drastically.

21 years ago, Messi signed his first Barca contract on a napkin because his father, Jorge, felt the offer was too good to immediately require written endorsement. By the summer of 2021, he was pushed away by Barca to protect the future of the club, in the context of the financial situation severely affected by Covid-19.

Many people think that Messi should have accepted a significant reduction in salary if he loved Barca, but Spanish labor law prohibits salary reduction.

In fact, Barca fell long before Messi left in tears. The most obvious proof is that the representative of La Liga lost Neymar to PSG for a world record transfer fee of $ 263 million in the summer of 2017. They used that money to recruit Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho, but both were disappointing. . The transfer was wrong, while the famous La Masia academy no longer produced outstanding talents.

So when he was elected president for the second time last year, Laporta had to decide between selling off many key players or investing in the team. Barca members call this a “virtual circle”, a gamble where continuing to invest in the club to have a “brand” on the pitch will add to the financial difficulties.


The powerful rookie group with Lewandowski, Kounde, Raphinha, Kessie, Christensen makes Barca more difficult financially.

Before the start of La Liga, the salary fund was so large that Barca could not register five rookies, Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie, due to La Liga’s financial fair play rules. So are Sergi Roberto – the midfielder has just extended until 2023 and Ousmane Dembele – who signed a two-year contract after the old contract expired.

To solve the problem, the elites at the Camp Nou have continuously activated three economic levers since the beginning of the summer, including the sale of La Liga television rights and shares of Barca Studios company. Thanks to that, they earned $ 777 million.

Barca also actively streamlined the squad when saying goodbye to 10 players, including Dani Alves, Adama Traore, Luuk De Jong and Clement Lenglet. In the remaining two weeks of this summer transfer window, Barca will focus on finding outputs for Memphis Depay, Martin Braithwaite, Samuel Umtiti, Neto, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergino Dest. Barca even threatened to sue Frenkie de Jong, saying that the contract extension between the Dutch midfielder and former president Josep Bartomeu’s team on October 20, 2020 showed signs of crime.

Amidst all that turmoil, there’s still some romance to the Camp Nou – not least because the stadium can be rented out as a wedding venue, as a way to help Barca raise more money. After replacing Ronald Koeman,  Xavi  blew a new breath, helping Barca from ninth place to La Liga runner-up.


Barca is trying to make money by all means, including renting a wedding party in the Camp Nou yard. Photo: Bild

The rookies also integrated well in the pre-season. Raphinha scored a super product to help Barca beat Real 1-0 in a friendly match at Allegiant Stadium, USA. When playing his first match at Camp Nou, Lewandowski scored one and assisted two goals to help Barca crush Pumas UNAM 6-0 to win the Joan Gamper Cup for the tenth time in a row – the annual pre-season friendly award in memory of the former team president. shadow.

Economic levers help Barca strengthen their forces and see the light at the end of the road. But the difficulty has not passed, as one club member warned: “Today, we can eat well, but tomorrow we will starve”.

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