PETE JENSON: An out-of-control wage bill, Frenkie de Jong BACK in the shop window and ANOTHER lever needed to ease bills piling up… having budgeted to reach the quarter-finals, here is what happens if Barcelona are eliminated from the Champions League
- Barcelona’s place in the Champions League is currently hanging by a thread
- Barcelona had budgeted to reach the quarter-finals stage as a minimum
- An early exit could reportedly see the Spanish giants lose out on £18million
- They have an out-of-control wage bill and missing out would call for more sales
- Frenkie de Jong, who fought so hard to stay, would be back out on the market
The consequences of Barcelona’s early exit from the Champions League could be as far reaching as having to sell several players next summer with Frenkie de Jong back in the shop window and even out of favour Ferran Torres offered to potential suitors.
A lot can happen between now and the end of the season and winning a Europa League and LaLiga double would go some way to make up for the hole in the budget left by exiting Europe’s biggest competition, but again the club are left trying to patch-up their broken finances.
Barcelona mortgaged its future during the last transfer window in order to spend £132m on new signings but that bold economic plan hinged on making it to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and if Inter Milan beat Viktoria Plzen in the early kick-off in two weeks, Barça will already be eliminated when they take to the pitch to face Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp.
Barcelona’s impending exit from the Champions League is going to squeeze the resources and players available to manager Xavi Hernandez (left)
Barcelona president Joan Laporta banked on reaching the Champions League quarter-finals
Early elimination will cost the club at least the £8.4m given teams that reach the last-16.
They had budgeted for at least a quarter-final place and failing to make it to that stage will cost them a further £9.3m.
That means the club will come up £17.7m short on the prize money they had budgeted for but they thought they were being cautious banking on only reaching the last eight – such was the excitement in the summer when they brought in five new signings.
There was some optimism that they could go all the way this year, earning a further £11m for the semi finals, and, if they reached the final, either £13.6m or £17.5m, depending on whether or not they won it. Winning the Europa League will bring in around £13m, but there are no guarantees they will claim the lesser prize.
Barcelona sold off chunks of their organization last summer so as to pass LaLiga’s strict financial fair play rules.
Frenkie de Jong spurned interest from Manchester United to stay but a Champions League exit would see him back on the market as Barcelona look to recoup lost earnings with sales
Winning the Europa League wouldn’t fully recover the financial damage leftover by Barcelona’s potential failure to advance to the quarter-final stage of the Champions League
The club claimed they brought in £750m by leasing 25 per cent of future TV rights over the next 25 years to investment fund Sixth Street and selling 49 per cent of Barça Studios, the club’s in-house film production operation.
There will be forced to pull some more, so-called, economic levers next summer, selling 49 per cent of their merchandising arm, but the axe would have to fall on the squad too.
The club’s wage bill remains out of control at £567m.
Barcelona believe £432m is the more sustainable target. Both Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique have contracts until the end of 2024 and that will cost the club a further £62m unless they can be offloaded ahead of the end of their deals. T
They tried to sell Alba to Milan on deadline day last summer and will redouble efforts to get both off the wage bill.
Alba and Pique leaving, coupled with Sergio Busquets’ departure, because he is in the last year of his contract, will make a dent in the wages overspend.
But none of those three will command a transfer fee which is why attention will again turn to selling Frenkie de Jong who they failed to move to Manchester United last season for £64m because the player did not want to leave.
Barcelona spent £132million in the summer on the likes of Robert Lewandowski (left) who helped keep the Catalan giants in the competition with a brace against Inter Milan
Barcelona tried to shift big earners such as Jordi Alba (pictured) in the summer but failed
Sergino Dest, Memphis Depay and even Ferran Torres – who has fallen out of favour almost a year after he joined from Manchester City, could all be made available.
Barcelona’s accounts, published last week, landed with a word of warning to potential suitors, though.
Accounts showed Barcelona still owe transfer fees going back years, on deals for players such as Philippe Coutinho, Miralem Pjanic and Neto Moura, who are no longer at the club.
In 2022-23, a total of £93m is due to be paid for these players.
It isn’t just the shortfall in anticipated prize money and the still out of control wage bill affecting Barcelona. They have to temporary rehouse next season while their stadium is rebuilt and the reduced capacity of the city’s Olympic Stadium will create another shortfall in revenue.
Just over 92,000 watched them draw 2-2 with Inter at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night – only 56,000 fit into their, soon to be, temporary home.
Inter Milan could still knock Barcelona out with a win over Viktoria Plzen at the San Siro
Accounts showed they still need to pay off deals of players like Philippe Coutinho (right), who are no longer at the football club. (Pictured: Coutinho playing for Aston Villa)
For the moment no one is hitting any panic buttons. A win in Sunday’s Clasico in front of a 400m global TV audience will leave Barcelona three points clear at the top of LaLiga and put a rocket under the club’s famous brand.
Barça speculated in the summer, now they must accumulate drawing sponsors and investors like moths to the flame of on-field success. If it can’t come in the Champions League then it must come in LaLiga. If it’s absent there too then they have an even bigger problem.
‘Let’s go for LaLiga’ was Xavi’s message to his players when he met with them on Thursday morning before training according to Diario Sport. That focus will sustain the spirit of the team and protect it from the financial concerns that surround it. But a Clasico defeat that sends Real Madrid top will burst that bubble too.
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