Barcelona feel liberated by the departure of Antoine Griezmann. The striker’s tab ranged approximately between 35 and 40 million gross a year, the highest in the squad after he could no longer retain Messi – he received about 130 million between fixed and variable – before signing for PSG. The total savings by the French player could therefore amount to about 80 million because he has been loaned to Atlético for two seasons with a mandatory purchase option, although with conditions – it can be broken depending on the games played. It is not just any figure if one takes into account that the club’s deficit amounts to 1,350 million and the losses for the 2020-2021 season will be 481 million.
The economic photograph is so devastating while awaiting the September audit that being able to do without Griezmann was presented as a lifesaving operation because it allowed to alleviate the accounts and maneuver in the market after the blockade caused by the poor management of the Josep Maria Bartomeu board . The club’s sustainability inexcusably required zero-cost signings (Kun Agüero, Eric García, Memphis Depay, Luuk de Jong, Demir); updating poorly formulated contracts for variables that concealed charges; reduce expenses; and lower the wage bill, so high that it is 30% higher than the second highest in Europe, according to the Barça club – it has gone from 565 to 420 million, from 111% to 85%; the difference is 145 million, without counting Messi, in which case it would be 240 million.
The cut is as significant as the amount of 130 million gross entered according to Barça accounts for transfers despite the fact that many of the salaries of the footballers on the payroll are out of the market: Emerson (Tottenham, 25 million), Ilaix Moriba (Leipzig, 16 plus 6 variables), Junior (Leeds, 15), Todibo (Nice, 18.5 plus 7), Aleñà (Getafe, 5), Konrad (Marseille, 3) and Manaj (0.3, on loan to Spezia). Miranda and Monchu were released, Trincão was loaned to Wolverhampton; and Collado is pending exit as is Pjanic in some markets that are still open. Neither was a club willing to assume what Coutinho charged. And, having decided from the beginning that Messi could not be retained, in the end Griezmann was also released, without knowing what would have happened to the 10 if the Little Prince had been sought out before a team.
The intention of the Barça club was to exchange the French striker for João Félix after his exchange for Saúl proposed by Atlético did not work. The negotiations seemed very well under way, to the point that Ronald Koeman accepted the Portuguese, much to the liking of the president, Joan Laporta, and Diego Simeone has been the main defender of Griezmann’s return to the Metropolitan. That agreement, however, was frustrated in the end – according to the Barça version – by the opposition of the Athletic CEO, Miguel Ángel Gil Marín. The alternative was to negotiate only for Griezmann. And so it was how at 11:59 p.m. 40s, 20 seconds before the registration period ended, the OK was received when Griezmann returned.
The sensations are that Barça not only reinforces Atlético with the French, a player for whom 120 million were paid at the Camp Nou two years ago, but also makes him a favorite for the league title. The rojiblancos were already champions last season after the arrival of ex-Azulgrana Luis Suárez and in 2014 they also won the championship with David Villa. Barça decapitalizes every year and becomes Atlético’s best supplier. Griezmann’s goodbye allowed Barcelona to opt for the signing of a striker and respond to Koeman’s request. Although there was speculation with Cavani and Dani Olmo, the Catalans preferred not to rush, avoid an extra cost and reserve the possibility of returning to the market in winter after incorporating Luuk de Jong.
For Barcelona purposes, Griezmann explains the drift of Bartomeu’s time, in the same way that Sandro Rosell’s stage was expressed with Neymar. The disagreement between the French and the Barça club has been manifest after an operation carried out at the wrong time: delayed by the player and then forced by Barcelona. Griezmann has not found his place, Messi being or not, and was whistled against Getafe. The figure of a team footballer also played against him, more diligent than rebellious, resigned to his fate, although always defended by Koeman.
Griezmann not only conditioned the box, but also affected a sports bet that in any case is impoverished with his departure and the arrival of De Jong. The battering ram is a concession to Koeman. The intention of the club is to reinforce the figure of the coach with the arrival of Sevilla’s substitute striker and with the renewal of his contract until 2023. The continuity of the coach, however, is conditional on the titles, the team’s play and the fulfillment of The club’s strategic bets such as the recovery of Umtiti – the salary will be lowered – and the need to give more prominence to Riqui Puig, a player liked by Laporta. The proposal seems like a poisoned gift for Koeman if the taste of those who rule the club is attended to, the imbalance of the squad and the urgency of moving players due to the lack of income so as not to have to mortgage Barcelona assets.
Accustomed to improvising, the club intends to stop being a bottomless pit in exchange for betting on La Masia, for renewing Dembélé and Pedri and for improving the recruitment of international players with Jordi Cruyff. The estimates are that it will not be able to compete in the market until 2023. Now it is time to resist until being a sustainable entity after giving up the goals of Messi and Griezmann – both scored 58 points last season, 20 the Frenchman for 38 of 10 – in exchange to save a salary that threatened with the closure of the Camp Nou.
You can follow EL PAÍS DEPORTES in Facebook and Twitter, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.