Despite being one of the most prestigious clubs in world football, Barcelona are no longer the power they once were. Poor dealings on the transfer market and short-term thinking with regards to transfers has left the juggernaut hobbled. Since the turn of the century, FCB have been a dominant force in European and world football, turning the club into one of the most valuable sporting franchises in the world. Even their outstanding history, though, is not enough to save them from the financial reality of their present.
Instead, the 2021-22 edition of FC Barcelona could be without cornerstone legend Lionel Messi. The Argentine is out of contract this summer, and could see himself move on. With only a Copa del Rey to pick up and a season that seen them throw away the league title and crash out of the UEFA Champions League, this could be a season of relative failure for the Catalans. So much so that any talk of major summer signings is privately being seen as fantasy.
Although there is much big talk from the Barca board about major signings and marquee moves, the financial reality paints a grim picture. The club is short on funds, short on tradeable and sellable assets, and very much short on pulling power. With cuts all around the club expected in the future, there is a likelihood that Barcelona will have to sell before they can buy.
Unless they sell off a large chunk of their first-team, then, making the money needed to sign Erling Haaland this summer would be almost impossible. With current club Borussia Dortmund making the UEFA Champions League, too, they are under no need to sell for a cut-price fee. This leaves Barcelona likely on the fringes of any deal.
Can Barcelona rebuild the squad as intended?
They will need to do so under a strict and tight budget. The Catalan giants might have immense pulling power, but an ageing and imbalanced squad paired with poor financial decisions and cumbersome contracts makes any rebuild a massive challenge. The team are in a tight position whereby they need to find funding, but also have massive debts to try and pay off. This leaves them in a challenging spot with regards to their ability to build a first team that can make the fans proud.
As it stands, then, any talk of major summer signings would need to come on the back of making space on the wage bill. It would also require intelligent sales of players who might no longer hold peak value. Big name signings like Miralem Pjanic, Phillippe Coutinho, and Ousmane Dembele have failed to truly fire consistently. Getting value back for players with short deals or with long-term contracts past their prime years will become an incredible challenge.
For all the talk of Barcelona making Haaland their prime target, the reality is that the numbers simply do not add up. When evaluating the rumours, the reality states that Barcelona simply lack the funds they need to complete the kind of marquee signings suggested.