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Revolution that got Barcelona into financial crisis

Philippe Coutinho failed to click in Barcelona squad; Photo/Mirror
  • La Liga president Javier Tebas has said that €500 million would be enough for Barcelona to achieve financial parity.
  • Barcelona is understood to have activated financial levers and sold some of the club’s properties to buy and register players this season.
  • After selling Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona brought in Coutinho and Dembele as prospect talent to fill the gap but that failed to materialize as envisioned.

Barcelona is one of the most successful clubs in Spain and the World. Its academy has produced some exciting talents that have entertained the sporting World. Lionel Messi presently of Paris Saint Germain is one of those from La Masia, Barcelona academy.

Messi who has played for Barcelona since his teen days was forced out in the last stages of summer transfer 2021 due to clubs’ inability to register him.

Barcelona’s spending spree on players this season has also got people questioning their source of money. They have signed Robert Lewandowski from Bayern, Raphinha from Leeds, Frack Kessie from AC Milan, Andreas Christensen from Chelsea, and Jules Kunde, the latter is yet to be registered.

Barcelona is understood to have activated financial levers and sold some of the club’s properties in order to buy and register players this season. Despite that, the club has been firm in its decision to let some players who are high wages leave the club before the transfer window shuts.

Few have left while others are yet to leave. The scenario of forcing the young squad to leave the club while leaving the Old players paint a grim picture of what their future will look like. Riqui Puig left the club for MLS and has since expressed how he was handled in his last stages of making the move.

But where did Barcelona once a great club get it wrong in their transfer that brought this financial problem? We take a deep analysis throughout some of their expensive transfer to unearth details of how the current problems started.

2017/18 Season rebuild

Barcelona sold Neymar Jr for £199.8 million to Paris Saint-Germain and wanted to fill the gap left by Brazilian international and so they brought in Ousmane Dembele from Borrusia Dortmund and Phillipe Coutinho from Liverpool. The two came on high transfer fees and were put on high wages as previously had starred in their respective clubs.

In the same year where Barcelona was revolutionizing its squad that saw them spend more than £310million on Coutinho and Dembele, they also brought in players such as Paulinho, Yerry Mina, and Nelson Semedo among others, and renewed some contracts of the squad in the same year.

Coutinho and Dembele: Situation critical | MARCA in English

Barcelona signed Coutinho and Dembele after making cash on Neymar transfer; photo/Marca

Although their net spending that season wasn’t so big, the huge contracts Barca issued to new players and stars like Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, and Messi plunged them into a financial crisis.

2018/19 Season

Having signed great talents in Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele Barca expected them to hit the ground running but that did not materialize, both players experienced a difficult season with other players signed along with them such as Paulinho being sent to his former Chinese club on loan before being permanently sold.

Players such as Digne and Yerry Mina also departed for English side Everton.

This window transfer also saw all-time and legendary midfielder Andreas Iniesta joining Vissel Kobe on a free transfer.

With players such as Emerson Royal alongside Marlon and Gerard Deulofeu leaving on largely lower fees the Catalan club was sooner in the market where it secured the services of Malcom and Clement Lenglet who has joined Spurs this season on loan.

2019/20 Season

The 2019-20 season saw Barcelona spending high transfer fees for Antoinne Griezman and Frenkie De Jong who are giving them a lot of problems in balancing their financial books.

Barcelona is understood to let De Jong leave and is on the lookout for a suitable buyer for Griezman who is on loan in Atletico Madrid.

Manchester United Pursuit for Frenkie De Jong this season did not materialize despite Erik Ten Hag’s top interest in the player.

According to Marca Barcelona spent as much as £268.65 million on signing players, with a net spend of £131.04 million that season

2020/21 Season, Wage cuts and sudden transfers

This season saw players being forced to leave as others were convinced to reduce their salaries for the club to balance their financial wage book.

Luis Suarez reportedly said was given a call by then club manager Ronald Koeman to depart the club despite the strikers willing to stay he deemed surplus to requirement.

He emotionally left the club to join Atletico Madrid where he won the La Liga the same season and scored against Barcelona.

Ivan Rakitic, Rafinha, and Semedo also left for their dear career and Barcelona traded Arthur Melo with Miralem Pjanic in a swap deal with Juventus.

The details of these transfers are mind-blowing and cost the club even to this time. This is also the season that saw the club’s president Maria Josep Bartomeu resign from his position after an internal crisis erupted where some players refused to take a pay cut.

2021/22 Season and Laporta era

After Josep Bartomeu resigned from his position as the Clubs president Joan Laporta took over the helm and started to restore a little financial sanity to the club.

Lionel Messi wants to finish career at Barcelona and will only quit in next three to four years, says Josep Bartomeu | The Sun

Josep Bartomeu and Lionel Messi; Photo/The Sun

This is the season that saw the club lose one of the best players in the world. Barcelona had earlier announced that Messi would sign a deal with the club but to shocking news, the Club could not afford to register him this time and he left disappointed to join PSG.

The same window that Messi left, saw other players such as Garcia, and Memphis Depay arriving and Gerrard Pique was convinced to take a pay cut for the club to register these players.


Football fans around the world are still trying to come to terms with how the club is signing players having gone through a stormy financial period. The club is still in billions of debt and is pulling some of the best-priced players in the market.

The Spanish top league rules state that for a club to sign or play it must meet certain criteria on the exact amount a club is supposed to spend in transfer. The rules on the amount specifically are inclusive of transfer fees, amortization, and wages.

In essence, Barcelona needs to sell players either for a lot of money or let go of their highest earners at the club to raise cash. Once these alarm bells started ringing, Barcelona came up with what they term “economic levers”.

Elias Makokha is a professional Media Practitioner venturing into Corporate Communications, Radio Broadcast and Digital content creation with a keen interest in videography, photography and online Writing. He works well individually and collaboratively with his juniors, peers and seniors. He adheres to the hallmarks of journalism and accurately reports by conducting fact checks from reputable sources before publishing.

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