Ronald Koeman wants Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia in January but cash-strapped Barcelona will need to offload FOUR players to raise funds or else shop in the bargain bin after £270m drop in revenue… and Neymar is definitely not coming back!
- Barcelona face a financial jugging act if they are to strengthen squad in January
- Coach Ronald Koeman has identified Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia as targets
- But the club is struggling financially and needs to sell four players to buy them
- Leader in the club’s presidential race, Victor Font, has ruled out Neymar’s return
- It comes after Barcelona took a £270million hit in revenue during Covid crisis
- Talks over slashing squad wage bill by £171m have also not progressed smoothly
The favourite to win the next Barcelona presidential elections, Victor Font, has ruled out trying to re-sign Neymar and the interim board have laid-off club legend Carles Rexach from his advisory role so no one at Barcelona needs to be reminded that the financial fall-out from the coronavirus continues to hit the club hard.
That is why there is also a growing realisation that any chance the club has of signing Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay in January will depend entirely on their ability to offload four players when the window opens.
Font said on Monday that Neymar might fit the club’s sporting needs but he did not fit the economic roadmap out of the current situation. And with coach Ronald Koeman wanting Manchester City’s 19-year-old centre-back and Lyon’s Dutch striker in January, he knows it will only happen if new clubs are found for Samuel Umtiti, Junior Firpo, Martin Braithwaite and Matheus Fernandes.
Holland and Lyon winger Memphis Depay is top of Ronald Koeman’s shopping list for January
A Barcelona return for Manchester City centre-back Eric Garcia is another January priority
Manager Ronald Koeman has been told as many as four players need to be sold to raise funds
Barcelona’s cut-backs continued in earnest on Monday with club legend Carles Rexach let go.
La Vanguardia reported that the club’s former player and coach – who had spent more seasons in the first team as a player, from 1965 to 1981, than any other player except Xavi and Lionel Messi – was to stand down from his position as assessor to the board.
With the pandemic reducing the club’s income from last season by 300 million euros [£269m] and talks over 191m euros [£171m] cut in the wage bill currently stalled, there is no chance that Koeman will be given the two players he believes the team needs to make them competitive through to the end of the season unless others can be edged out.
A new deadline has been set for November 23 for players to agree to proposals that would postpone payments due to them at the start of the year.
The favourite to be Barcelona’s next president has already ruled out a return for Neymar
Striker Martin Braithwaite could be one of the players Barcelona flog to raise funds for January
But some players are still understood to object to the idea of having to reach an agreement with what remains a very temporary board and a friendly settlement can still not be taken for granted.
There is also some discord over the decision to delay elections until January 24 when a Christmas election had originally been suggested as a way of getting the club’s new president installed ahead of the crucial month of January when the window opens.
There is not much optimism about the club’s chances of moving on the four for-sale players. Barcelona paid Leganes 18m euros [£16.15m] for forward Braithwaite and are unlikely to find a buyer willing to match that price.
He has made just four starts since arriving, scoring once, and he wants to stay because he believes as the only centre-forward in the squad he can still provide Koeman with solutions he does not have elsewhere.
Junior Firpo could well be another player sold in January to raise desperately needed funds
Defender Samuel Umtiti could be another player heading out of the club in the next window
The 22-year-old Brazilian midfielder Fernandes is yet to start and only started two games in the second half of last season out on loan at Valladolid. His 7m euros [£6.3m] arrival from Palmeiras is one of the club’s most puzzling signings.
Umtiti has the pedigree to attract attention but his injury problems and the fact that he has not played yet this season as he continues to struggle to get 100 per cent fit mean the 27-year-old will find it hard to get a move at the start of the year.
The one player who could attract a buyer is Junior Firpo and Barcelona have already lined up 17-year-old left back Alejandro Balde to step up from the B-team to replace him if he moves on.
But Barcelona need to get money for him because he cost 18m euros from Betis who are due around 20 per cent of any fee they get for him.
The uncertainty around who can be sold contrasts with the very clear vision of who Koeman wants.
Catalan businessman Victor Font is the current frontrunner to be Barcelona’s next president
City’s Spain defender Garcia will arrive at the club at the end of the season on a free but Koeman wants him now and knows the sale of Umtiti could make that possible. City are holding out for a fee of around 15m euros [£13.5m] if they have to give the player up mid-season.
Depay is Koeman’s choice to lead the line. The Dutch coach is unmoved by concerns that the 26-year-old is not an out-and-out centre-forward.
He wants his former national team player’s aggression and direct running opening space for the likes of Messi and 17-year-old Pedri.
He would have arrived in the summer had Ousmane Dembele not turned down the chance to move to Manchester United before this season started.
Barcelona were unable to sign Depay in the summer because Ousmane Dembele didn’t leave
Koeman has already gone on the record saying: ‘It’s true that [Memphis] is a possibility. I will try to sign him because I would like him here. But I cannot say what the financial situation of the club will be in January.’
It is that economic uncertainty that casts a shadow over the rest of Barcelona’s season.
Carles Alena and Riqui Puig have also been named among those players that could be sold but the young midfielders are also unlikely to raise the sort of fees that would give Koeman the resources to strengthen at the turn of the year.