Barcelona can’t register nine of their 25 first-team players – here’s the state of play


Recent summers have brought plenty of drama at Barcelona as president Joan Laporta and his directors have looked to build competitive squads despite serious and ongoing financial problems.

That has often meant wheeling and dealing right down to the final day of the transfer window. Barcelona’s board have found increasingly inventive ways to work within La Liga’s salary limit regulations, including the famous ‘levers’ of summer 2022 and 2023.

Last August saw a number of players moved out against their wishes during the final days of the window before Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo arrived on loan just before the deadline. Board members gave personal guarantees worth €18.5million to La Liga.

This year is sure to bring more such manoeuvring. The Athletic reported last month that Barcelona must find about €130million before June 30 or it will be very difficult to add new players to their squad due to how they overshot La Liga’s salary limit during 2023-24.

This week, Barcelona sources, who, like all of those spoken to for this article asked to be kept anonymous to protect relationships, told The Athletic there was confidence that a solution to their need for €130m would be found by the end of the month. The club have been looking to find new investors for their troubled Barca Studios lever and to renegotiate and/or extend their deal with kit supplier Nike.

Flick’s squad will still take a while to become clear (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

But no concrete details have yet been shared with La Liga and cashing in on squad assets such as Ronald Araujo, Frenkie de Jong or Raphinha cannot be ruled out. Especially as Laporta said this week: “We’d like to strengthen in holding midfield and add an out-and-out winger.”

Meanwhile, as things stand, nine of the 25 players who started games for Barcelona in La Liga during 2023-24 currently cannot be registered for next season.

Sergi Roberto and Marcos Alonso are out of contract on June 30, when the loan deals for Felix and Cancelo also expire. That date also sees Inigo Martinez and Vitor Roque become ‘unregistered’ with La Liga due to the unorthodox ways both were levered onto the squad list for last season.

Senior deals for La Masia products Alejandro Balde, Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi and Hector Fort all still have to be formally accepted by La Liga. A legal battle with the league over the status of another homegrown youngster Gavi is also yet to be concluded.

Making it even more difficult to find space within the salary budget to add new names is that players returning from loan are all automatically registered for 2024-25. This means the hefty salaries of Ansu Fati, Eric Garcia, Sergino Dest and Clement Lenglet are all currently being counted by La Liga for next season even if none of those players figure in the club’s long-term plans.

Laporta and Barcelona sporting director Deco now have a series of difficult cases to resolve. It will clearly be quite a while before new head coach Hansi Flick’s squad for next season is finalised. A source close to a player whose future is uncertain said: “It’s going to be a very long summer.”

Sergi Roberto

Barcelona’s current club captain renewed on a lower salary last summer. He then played 24 games during an injury-hampered campaign, scoring three goals and providing three assists.

Another 12-month extension was expected had his former team-mate Xavi continued as head coach, however nothing has been signed. Laporta is said to value the Catalan-born La Masia graduate’s representation of the club’s values. Whether that contribution is considered valuable enough to offer him a new contract remains to be seen.

Marcos Alonso

Marcos Alonso was always a strange signing and played just 389 minutes in all competitions last season.

Alonso – a strange signing (Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

A back issue has not helped, but even when fit the former Chelsea defender was well down the pecking order. The 33-year-old has surely played his last game for Barcelona.

Vitor Roque

Vitor Roque was meant to join Barcelona from Athletico Paranaense this coming summer for an initial €30million plus a potential further €31m in add-ons.

The Brazilian starlet was initially registered with La Liga in January as an ‘emergency’ short-term signing to cover Gavi’s injury. So the salary he was paid while mostly sitting on the bench for the last six months must now be subtracted from Barcelona’s total available for the coming season.

Had Xavi continued as coach, a loan move for next season was being considered. His agent Andre Cury told Catalan radio in early May that “we don’t want a loan… if he has to go, it will be a permanent sale”. Laporta suggested this week the 19-year-old would be in Flick’s squad next season.

Inigo Martinez

Martinez signed a two-year deal when he joined Barcelona on a free transfer from Athletic Bilbao last summer. However, that contract was registered with La Liga for just one year to ensure he could be added to the official squad last August.

Xavi was a fan of the Basque’s technical qualities and he played 25 games for Barcelona last season, despite some injury absences.

The 33-year-old is keen to continue at Barca. His future may not be decided until later in the window and depends on what happens with other players, particularly Araujo and Garcia.

Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo

“We want the Joaos to continue and we’re working on them continuing another season,” Laporta said this week. “Flick considers them top-quality players and is counting on both.”

This is despite both having had underwhelming 2023-24 campaigns. Cancelo made big mistakes in crucial moments and Xavi often left Joao Felix on the bench for big games.

Both are unwanted at their ‘parent’ clubs, due to difficult relationships with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone.

Felix and Cancelo either side of Raphinha (David Ramos/Getty Images)

The close relationship between Laporta and Jorge Mendes, who represents both players, looks just as important for their futures. Mendes also represents various other squad members — including Fati, Yamal and Balde.

A quirk of Felix’s arrival late last August was that Barcelona originally wanted to register him on a very low salary, but Tebas later confirmed that La Liga gave him a ‘market value’ of €10million under regulations designed to stop clubs from bending rules or underpaying players.

Eric Garcia

Centre-back Garcia thrived on loan at Girona last season, being a key part of the Catalan side’s surprise Champions League qualification.

That loan deal did not contain an option for a permanent transfer and Garcia has two more years on the contract agreed when he returned from Manchester City in July 2021.

“This summer I’ll go back to Barcelona and we’ll see what the club’s plan is for me,” he told The Athletic in March.

The 23-year-old also spoke in that interview about confusion at Barcelona in the final days of last summer’s transfer window. Xavi said he was counting on him for the season, but the club hierarchy wanted to loan him out to make room in the salary limit to sign other players instead.

Ansu Fati

Fati was another who did not initially want to leave Barcelona on loan last summer. His experiences on loan were less fruitful than Garcia’s.

The 21-year-old scored four goals in 30 games for Brighton but never really convinced Roberto De Zerbi that he was prepared for the demands of the Premier League. The Premier League club’s social media goodbye made clear they did not expect to be seeing him again any time soon.

“It was a pleasure to play for Brighton, but now I’m back with my club and my family,” Fati told Mundo Deportivo this week. “My dream remains to play for Barca.”

Fati remains popular with many Barcelona fans and it is not long since he was seen as Lionel Messi’s long-term successor in the number 10 jersey. However, the club’s directors now realise the €10million-plus annual salary agreed before injuries seriously affected his development is now a big problem.

Sergino Dest

U.S. international right-back Sergino Dest spent last year on loan at PSV Eindhoven, having never really settled at Barcelona since joining for €21million from Ajax in summer 2020.

Dest had an excellent season at PSV, contributing two goals and seven assists in 37 games before suffering a serious knee injury in April. This will see the 23-year-old miss the USMNT’s Copa America campaign this summer.

The Dutch club have an option for a permanent transfer this summer and may now be able to drive a hard bargain. Barcelona will not want an injured player taking up space on their wage bill, especially one whose contract with them ends in June 2025.

Clement Lenglet

Lenglet has not played for Barcelona since May 2022 after spending the last two seasons on loan at Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa.

The former France international, who turns 29 on June 17, still has two more years on the bumper contract agreed when he joined Barcelona from Sevilla in 2018, during Josep Maria Bartomeu’s free-spending years as president.

That €16million salary (inc tax) complicates matters. Barcelona were paying a significant chunk even while he was at Tottenham and Villa. A move to Saudi Arabia would resolve the problem for Barcelona, but the player himself appears keen to continue his career in Europe.


Gavi’s long-term contract situation remains in a type of legal limbo.

Having emerged into Barca’s first team aged 17, still on his youth team deal and wearing No 30, Gavi signed a first senior contract in September 2022 with a €1billion release clause.

When La Liga said there was no room for that contract within that season’s squad salary limit, Barcelona took a case to the Spanish courts and achieved a temporary injunction to ensure the player was not free to sign for another club last summer.

Gavi (centre) and his contract exist in a legal limbo (David Ramos/Getty Images)

While waiting for Barcelona’s Juzgado Mercantil (Commercial Court) No 10 to resolve the case, Gavi was registered with La Liga for 2023-24. He wore No 6 for the first months of the season, until suffering a serious knee injury on Spain duty in November, and is still mid-way through a long recovery process.

Until the Barcelona court offers a final judgement on the legal case, doubts will remain over his long-term future.

Alejandro Balde

Home-produced left-back Alejandro Balde signed a senior contract with Barcelona in September 2023 that tied him to the club until June 2028 with a €1billion release clause. 

However, Barcelona did not have space to formally register that contract with La Liga and still do not.

The 20-year-old’s ability and potential mean he would be among the priority players to register first — assuming they make space this summer.

Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi & Hector Fort

Teenagers Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi and Hector Fort played big roles for the first team through the second half of 2023-24 and have all agreed new contracts befitting their status as emerging stars of interest to richer clubs across Europe.

Yamal signed his first professional contract in October 2023, which lasts until 2026 and also includes the €1billion release clause. Barcelona sources have told The Athletic that a longer extension is already agreed for when he turns 18 in July 2025.

Cubarsi recently agreed a new deal which ties him to the club until June 2027. That was seen as vital as his academy contract includes a €10million release clause and the player named in Spain’s provisional Euro 2024 squad has a current market value already many multiples of that figure.

Recent weeks also saw full-back Fort, still 17, renew his contract, although only up until June 2026.

Given all the pressures on the salary limit and the uncertainty of the Gavi legal case, Barcelona are relying on these home-produced kids showing loyalty and ignoring potentially huge offers from elsewhere.

Formally registering them all as senior as senior players with La Liga would bring the protection of their huge release clauses and sighs of relief throughout the Barcelona family.

(Top photos: Getty Images)

Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.