Barcelona presidential hopeful Victor Font has warned that the club’s financial situation is ‘critical’ as a result of the coronavirus crisis and La Liga’s salary cap, explaining that candidates talking up transfer pursuits of Neymar or Kylian Mbappe cannot be considered credible.
Barcelona’s financial troubles have been well documented in recent months and the player salary budget for the season is set at €383m. The club have confirmed they need to make wage cuts to the tune of €191m, but talks earlier this month failed to reach an agreement.
Barca raised money in summer by selling Arthur to Juventus and receiving Miralem Pjanic in part-exchange, while also cashing in on Nelson Semedo to Wolves. But they still lacked funds to buy Eric Garcia back from Manchester City or sign Memphis Depay at Ronald Koeman’s request.
“The situation of the club has never been like this, with the pandemic putting it in a critical state, as the board recognised. Now having a project and a team is more important than ever,” Font explained while speaking to the media in Spain, via SPORT.
“This time for the situation, whoever comes with super-signings like Mbappe and Neymar is not making a very credible proposal,” he added.
“At the end of the summer there was a €400m debt and no liquidity. They couldn’t sign Eric Garcia, who was an urgent need and someone [Koeman] asked for. He also asked for Depay, whom they could not sign, and now La Liga has set out the salary limits and Barcelona’s is hugely reduced.”
Barca also face the prospect of losing Lionel Messi at the end of the season when his contract expires. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner saw his exit blocked over the summer when he tried to invoke a clause allowing him to leave for free early and refused to engage in a legal battle.
The old board headed by former president Josep Maria Bartomeu is out, but Manchester City have been heavily tipped to poach Messi and reunite him with Pep Guardiola.
Font, however, remains hopeful that he can persuade Messi to stay at Camp Nou if successful in the January election. The candidate also hinted he will rope in club legend Xavi to make the case.
“[Messi’s camp] will listen to us and read our intentions. What we are most concerned about is making Messi know that our project is to make a competitive team in which he feels comfortable, and it’s essential that he continues,” Font explained.
“You don’t need PowerPoints with Messi. You have to explain to him the institutional project. And on the sporting front the one who’s best placed to convince him is someone like Xavi. Messi knows him perfectly and believes in his capabilities.”