Barcelona, Spain – Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has spoken anonymously about his summer transfer plans. At the top of his wish list was Lionel Messi and a replacement for the departed Sergio Busquets. However, Messi has already slipped away, announcing his intention to join Inter Miami in the MLS, and Xavi’s main target as Busquets’ replacement, Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubemendi, as it were, is out of Barcelona’s price range at 60 million euros.
So it’s back to square one, with the scene set for another hectic summer inside and out at the Catalan club.
Last year, Barcelona sold the club’s assets – including a percentage of future profits from TV rights – to get €150m from the players Xavi wanted: Robert Lewandowski, Rafinha, Jules Conde and more. Until then, they had to wait until the eve of the new campaign to register new signings.
This year, after changing the rules of financial fair play in LaLiga, they will not be able to repeat this strategy. To comply with the league’s spending limits, they would have to transfer players, lower their wage bill, and find new sources of income if they were to strengthen the team. It is imperative that they do so, said Xavi, after winning their first LaLiga title since 2019 this season, that they improve in the Champions League, where they failed to get out of the group stage in the past two years.
So, as Real Madrid reveal Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham costs €103m and is linked to moves worth more than €120m for PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, sources have told ESPN that Barcelona are working on a deal. that. Various scenarios from best case to low cost alternatives and everything in between. It all depends on how much money they can spend. It’s not the most efficient way to plan a new campaign and not all potential signings will be willing to wait – Messi certainly wasn’t.
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Due to asset sales last summer, Barcelona had a spending limit inflated by more than €650m this year. League sources estimate it won’t drop to more than €450m next season, although the exact numbers are constantly changing. The spending cap limits the amount a club can spend on sporting costs (wages, amortization payments, etc.). If a club exceeds the limit, i.e. Barcelona, they are still allowed to invest in signings but can only spend 40% of whatever they save or raise.
The departure of captain Busquets and Jordi Alba, two of the club’s biggest earners, has created some spending space. The closure of Barca TV, which costs more than €10m a year to run, also helps.
Barcelona has to factor in other sporting costs of the spending limit as well. What they spend on the academy, women’s team, basketball and other sports teams is also included in their expenditures by LaLiga. This may be the reason why the basketball team won, former basketball player Nikola Mirotic, It was announced that the club would not extend his contract this week.
All those savings aren’t worth the €200m, though, which is roughly the amount Barcelona would need to raise to break away from the 40% rule. However, they are hoping that will be enough to allow them to score the contract renewals that Javi, Ronald Araujo, Sergi Roberto, Marcos Alonso and Inaki Pena have signed in recent months. It may be enough for them to bring in defender Iñaki Martinez, who ESPN previously revealed has agreed to join from The Athletic Club on a free transfer this summer.
Meanwhile, Barcelona continues to search for new sponsors. It was recently announced that Ambilight TV would appear on the team’s jersey sleeves, while sources say there is also the possibility of a shorts sponsor being added. But these are small wins and the quickest way to sign is to get the players out first.
With Alba and Busquets gone, there are different groups of players Barcelona will hear offers from.
The first consisted of loan returnees: Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, Sergino Dest, Alex Collado, Nico Gonzalez and Abdelzalzouli. Barcelona need to free up their salary space and, if possible, pay fees for these players. Sources say this does not mean the door to the first team is closed – particularly in the case of Nico and Abdi – but that the club is courting interest.
In the second group are the first-team players who have not enjoyed regular football under Xavi. Sources say that Frank Kessie, Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati are among those, although they are reluctant to leave.
The last group contains players who are not normally available. Club sources insist there are many things that cannot be touched, although some agents and mediators consulted by ESPN suggest there is a feeling Barcelona should listen to the big offers of most of the players in the squad.
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What does Xavi want?
Xavi has never hidden his desire to bring Messi back. At any chance, he said, this Barcelona team, who won the title after 26 clean games, needs to add creativity in the final third. The 35-year-old, who played alongside him during the club’s most glamorous period, was thought of as that player.
The Barcelona boss was also glowing about Real Sociedad’s Zubimendi as a replacement for Busquets. However, he has a €60m compensatory clause. For LaLiga’s spending cap, the cost of signing a player per year is roughly his salary plus the amortization payment on his fee. For €60m, if he signs a six-year contract with a €10m salary, Zubemendi’s transfer would cost €20m on the club’s books (his wages plus his transfer cost divided by the length of his deal, i.e. €60m divided by six, equals 10 million euros.) For this level of investment, adhering to the 40% rule, Barcelona will have to provide about 50 million euros.
Until then, Zubemendi demands no move. He recently renewed his contract with no real He is looking forward to next season’s Champions League football with his boyhood club.
Xavi is also a fan of Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich, but the Germany international is a similarly unlikely option, even with a move into the final two years of his contract.
The alternative candidates to replace Busquets do not generate consensus among the club’s transfer committee, which consists of Xavi, director of football Mateo Alemany and new sporting director Dico – with input from president Joan Laporta and his advisors Enrique Masip and Alejandro Echevarria. and Vice President Rafa Yusti. Sources say Wolverhampton’s Ruben Neves and Fiorentina’s Sofiane Amrabat both fall into this category, while Fulham’s Joao Balinha and Benfica’s Florentino Luis have been linked.
Internal options include playing Frenkie de Jong deeper, or giving academy graduate Neko another chance upon his return from a loan spell at Valencia, while defenders Eric Garcia and Sergi Roberto have also been tried out there this season. But Xavi was clear that investment was needed to fill Busquets’ hole. Youngsters like Marc Casado and Pau Prem are not considered ready for this responsibility.
Sources say what Xavi really wants is creativity in midfield – especially if he’s going to continue playing with a square midfield four instead of a front three. Speaking last week, he said this Barcelona team lacked “a Santi Cazorla-type player”.
Bernardo Silva may be the dream option and sources confirmed Barcelona’s interest last year, but there is no indication they believe a potential €70m deal for the Portuguese midfielder would be financially feasible this summer as it stands.
ESPN revealed that Ilkay Gundogan, whose contract with Manchester City is set to expire, and Villarreal player Alex Baena have been targeted. Gundogan scored 11 goals and set up seven others, as City achieved the treble this season. Baena, who can also play wide, scored 12 goals and provided six assists for Villarreal.
Goals from Celta Vigo’s Djabri Vega and Fenerbahçe’s Arda Guler have also been reported to create competition for De Jong, Pedri, Javi, Sergi Roberto and Casey if he stays.
Further business will depend on finances. Reports indicate that Barcelona have already agreed a €40m deal for young Atletico Paranaense striker Vitor Roque. The 18-year-old has already been selected by Brazil’s senior national team and will arrive as Lewandowski’s replacement and potential heir. Sources did not confirm the reports to ESPN, but said the talks led by Decaux are going well.
Elsewhere, Barcelona feel secure with Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal, while Martinez will arrive as a free agent to complete a solid centre-back group that includes Andreas Christensen, Araujo, Conde and Eric Garcia. At left-back, Alex Balde and Marcos Alonso will compete for the starting role, but there are doubts at right-back. Conde has made it clear that he prefers to play in the middle. Newcomer Julian Araujo and Dest (once he returns from loan) are the other options but their futures may lie elsewhere.
Despite this, Xavi said signing the right-back was not a top priority. If that were the case, and the money was available, he would have chosen Villarreal’s Juan Foyth. And sources confirmed to ESPN that the Catalan club also inquired about 18-year-old Ivan Fresenda of Real Valladolid, despite the competition with Arsenal, Milan and Juventus for his signature, they may have arrived too late. City’s Joao Cancelo, whose agent Jorge Mendes has a close working relationship with Laporta, is another name on the table and they may be able to loan him out.
Forward, after Roque, any additions will depend on exits. Winger Ousmane Dembele is in talks to renew his contract and Rafinha has made it clear he wants to stay, while Fati and Torres are currently resisting the club’s attempts to advance.
“He will stay,” Mendes said of his client, Fati, this week. “You have a phenomenon on your hands. He’s a future Ballon d’Or winner.”
Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco awaits in the wings. Barcelona have a €20m option to sign the Belgium international, but whether or not it will materialize remains undetermined. Abde is also pressing, after his stellar season on loan at Osasuna, for another chance, although sources say the club are not convinced the 21-year-old is stable enough.
Another player on the fringes of the first-team attack is Lamine Yamal, a 15-year-old who made his debut in April. Minutes could potentially be hard to come by, but he is one of the club’s youngsters who sources say could be in and around Xavi’s squad next season, along with defender Chadi Riyad, midfielder Alex Garrido and forwards Estanis Pedrola and Angel Alarcón. .