Why Barcelona paid a fee of €15 million for a signing they haven’t completed

Barcelona’s severe financial problems are well-known, with the club facing debts of €1.35 billion as of last year.

In a press conference in August, Barca president Joan Laporta stated that the club had recorded losses of €481 million. He blamed the previous administration of Josep Maria Bartomeu.

There are different reasons behind the debt. One of those is money owed to banks, whilst the club has also received reduced funds due to membership losses.

A key issue relates to player salaries. In 2019, Barca were given a salary cap of €671 million. Two years later, La Liga reduced that figure to just €95 million, owing to Barcelona’s substantial financial difficulties.

That resulted in the sales or loans of prominent players such as Antoine Griezmann and Emerson Royal, and also meant the departure of Lionel Messi on a free transfer.

The financial problems also meant the club had to cut back on the fees they could spend in the transfer market. Although a Goldman Sachs loan secured by Laporta meant the club could seal the €55 million transfer of Ferran Torres in January, Barcelona were limited to free transfers last summer. Eric Garcia, Memphis Depay and Sergio Aguero all joined the club.

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That is in massive contrast to years gone by, where the club paid nine-figure fees for players on several occasions. Those players include Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.

Barcelona paid for a player they don’t own

Another big-money signature that Barca secured was that of Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman joined the club in 2019 from Atletico Madrid. His release clause of €120 million was triggered.

There was no shortage of controversy surrounding the transfer. Atletico disputed that Barcelona had paid the correct release clause. They claimed that the clause was €200 million when Griezmann agreed to leave the club.

In 2021, the club undertook an internal audit on the transfer. Current CEO Ferran Reverter revealed, as per Marca, the board realised at the time that the club could not afford to pay the fee to sign Griezmann.

They instead took out an €85 million loan to complete the deal. At the time, the club was under the stewardship of Josep Maria Bartomeu as president – not Laporta.

Barca have recently completed another investigation into the state of their finances.

According to Spanish outlet Sport, they found that under the Bartomeu administration, the club paid a fee of €15 million to Atletico Madrid.

The case of Jose Gimenez

Jose Maria Gimenez
Image Credit: Getty

It has now been reported, as per Sport, that the fee was paid for Atletico defender Jose Gimenez. The Uruguayan, however, isn’t currently a Barcelona player. He never has been.

RAC1 have claimed, citing the explanation from the previous board, that Barca wanted to sign Gimenez in the 2019 summer transfer window. However, they could not afford to pay Atletico’s asking price and complete the signing of Griezmann as well.

Instead, the €15 million fee paid would guarantee that they could purchase the defender in the future. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the signing could not be secured.

For many years, Gimenez has been a key defensive cog in Diego Simeone’s side. The 27-year-old has made over 150 appearances for the club and helped them win five trophies, including two La Liga titles.

Three years ago, the signing would have made a great deal of sense. But with Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia positioning themselves to potentially be at the heart of Barca’s defence for the long-term, the signing of Gimenez now perhaps isn’t as necessary.

Featured Image Credit: Getty