FC Barcelona president, Joan Laporta. / ALEJANDRO GARCÍA / EFE

Let us eat cake

It's hard to understand how FC Barcelona are able to spend so much when they have a billion-euro debt

Rob Palmer
ROB PALMER

It's like FC Barcelona are going on a supermarket sweep, stuffing their basket with expensive items, knowing the credit card will max out when they reach the tills.

The club has a 1.2 billion-euro debt and asked its players to take wage cuts and deferrals so it could operate last season.

Now I'm reading how Raphinha has been signed for 58 million, Lewandowski is at the top of the shopping list at €40 million, and Azpilicueta has a contract waiting for him. On top of this, they have unveiled the free transfers Kessie and Christensen, both on big wages.

Dembélé is also said to be negotiating to stay with the club instead of seeking his fame and fortune elsewhere.

To be honest I'm just bamboozled. This is a club who lost the services of Messi, their greatest ever player, when they couldn't afford his wages. Several of the senior players agreed to a lighter pay packet to help balance the books.

My understanding of a complex situation is that for every four euros of income they would only be allowed to reinvest one euro as the rest goes towards balancing the books and meeting regulations.

The only player who is capable of raising a decent transfer fee is Frenkie de Jong. Manchester United have been heavily linked and a fee in the region of 80 million has been mentioned. That appears to be a very generous bid for a man who has struggled to establish himself in La Liga; I suspect his market value is half of that.

Even if they did persuade his old Ajax boss Erik ten Hag to pay the fee, only 20 million should be reinvested.

Barça are claiming some monetary wizardry to wipe off 600 million of the debt. They boast of two fresh "financial mechanisms" to "refloat the club's finances".

President Joan Laporta has likened his club to a Formula One car. He reasoned that he's inherited a vehicle that had run out of fuel with a seized engine. He said: "We tried starting the car up, but it wouldn't move. The car can leave the pits and return to the front row of the grid to compete and win again."

I fear there is too much smoke and mirrors. They have been selling anything and everything. The sacrosanct front of shirt sponsorship went years ago and now the Nou Camp will have a sponsors prefix.

Basically, the new idea is to sell off future income to pay off current debt. It's like paying off your credit card debts by taking an advance on your wages, but blowing the wages every week on lobster and champagne.

Someone on Twitter likened it to lending your pal a few quid to tide him over, only to discover he's gone on the lash and will wake up with a hangover. I'd like to explain how it all works but I'm not sure any person can.