On a sports level, the move makes complete sense.
Torres needs consistent playing time, which he’s not getting at City. And Barcelona desperately need new players. Since Xavi was hired as manager, they have started 20-year-old Ez Abde on the wing several times.
Abde has shown promise, but Barca shouldn’t place all that pressure on the shoulders of their developing starlets.
It’s the economic side of the deal that is puzzling. Barcelona will reportedly pay City a base fee of €50 million, plus €10 million in potential add-ons. This is the same club that had to let Leo Messi go this summer because they couldn’t afford him.
Ferrán Torres’s transfer is more complex than it seems
To be clear, Barcelona have the funds to sign Torres. Yes, they were strapped for cash in the past transfer window, but that’s not the case anymore. President Joan Laporta secured a €525million Goldman Sachs loan last summer to afford new signings. Barcelona can comfortably pay City’s asking price for Ferran.
La Liga’s salary cap puts them in a difficult position.
First introduced in 2013 to ensure clubs would remain financially healthy, the La Liga salary cap is a complex system. Every year, each club is assigned a salary limit based on the revenues and spending of the previous season.
La Liga drastically reduced this season’s cap due to the pandemic, and it severely impacted Barcelona. Their spending limit for the season is only the seventh highest in La Liga – ten times less than Real Madrid’s.
Even after several pay cuts, Barcelona could barely afford to register their summer signings in La Liga. Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia, and Sergio Aguero were all close to being left out from their squad.
Now, Barcelona face the same problem as in the last transfer window. They need to get rid of players if they want to register Torres for the remaining months of La Liga.
They have several options.
Selling a key starter
This isn’t as unlikely as it seems. Xavi has openly expressed his frustration with Barcelona veterans in the past few weeks.
In his seven games in charge of Barca, he has shown a preference for playing academy kids who understand the style he wants to implement.
There are a couple of big names in the hot seat.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen hasn’t played at his usual level this year, having already conceded 27 goals. Sure, that is not all on Ter Stegen, but he has played poorly nonetheless. His saving percentage is at a career-low 56.8%, 15 points down from last season’s 71.6%.
According to Transfermarkt, Ter Stegen’s market value is around £49.50m. It sounds about right for a 29-year-old goalkeeper whose best days seem behind him.
Frenkie De Jong has also been the source of much speculation. The Dutchman arrived from Ajax in 2019 for a £76.50m fee. With his midfield leadership and awareness of the Cruyff philosophy, he was supposed to be the perfect signing for Barca.
So far, he hasn’t lived up to the expectations.
De Jong still starts regularly for Barca, but his production has dipped considerably this season. His xA (expected assists) numbers tell a clear story. At 2.1, he is more than three points behind his performance last season.
With an expected market value of around £81m, selling De Jong would give Barca enough breathing space to complete the Ferran Torres transfer.
Getting rid of smaller salaries to register Ferran Torres
Ferran Torres will likely get a hefty paycheck from his new club. Barca could make the numbers work easily if they sold or loaned out Coutinho or Umtiti. Both players are among the bigger earners in their squad despite their limited playing time.
However, it seems unlikely that Barca will find suitors to take on their entire salary.
But the Catalans have another way to go around it. To register Torres without selling any big fish, they could either sell or loan out two or three bench players.
Yusuf Demir is one of the players expected to leave the club in January. After arriving on loan from Rapid Wien this summer, the Austrian teenager hasn’t impressed, having played only 290 minutes so far. He shares a position with Torres, so Barca will likely break off the loan agreement and have Demir return to Vienna.
Sergino Dest could also be on his way out. The US international was a valuable player for Koeman, but it remains to be seen what his role is under Xavi’s management. At only 21, Dest already has hundreds of Champions League minutes under his belt. His age and potential would make it relatively easy for Barca to find a buyer.
Sergi Roberto and Ousmane Dembélé present similar cases. Both players’ contracts end in June, and Barca has expressed a desire to re-sign them. That hasn’t happened yet, so Barca could look for an early goodbye under a low fee (or even for free) just to take their salaries off the books and complete the Ferran Torres transfer.
Other candidates to leave Barca include strikers Martin Braithwaite and Luuk de Jong. The latter, on loan from Sevilla, has reportedly been told to find a new club in January.
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