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Barcelona’s excellent pre-season has left fans dreaming but there is still plenty of work to do

PETE JENSON: Barcelona’s excellent pre-season has made fans dream of trophies… but with Frenkie de Jong still there in place of Bernardo Silva, signings to register and their terrible financial position, there’s plenty of work to do

  • Barcelona’s excellent pre-season ended on Sunday with a win over Pumas
  • There is a lot of optimism going into the new season after a busy summer
  • But the club’s dire financial position is still causing unrest around the club
  • Losing Frenkie de Jong would ease the pressure, but Barca still want more players
  • However, credit rating agency Fitch doesn’t seem too optimistic about the future

Barcelona’s club shop was nearly out of a W on Sunday night, as demand for Robert Lewandowski’s shirt exceeded even the club’s expectations.

With a record 83,000 at the Camp Nou to watch the last friendly of the summer, Barcelona began to reap the benefits of a summer they hoped to speculate – first the signings, then the revenue, albeit through the sale of future revenue streams.

The club’s supporters are now waiting to see if all the newcomers can be registered for this weekend’s kick-off, and to find out if Frenkie de Jong will finally be sold to make it happen.

Barcelona's thumping victory over Pumas at Camp Nou has boosted optimism for the season

Barcelona’s thumping victory over Pumas at Camp Nou has boosted optimism for the season

But the club's dire financial position means there's still work to be done for Joan Laporta (right)

But the club’s dire financial position means there’s still work to be done for Joan Laporta (right)

Club president Joan Laporta stuck to the club line for Sunday’s game, saying: “He has offers but we really want him to stay.”

The reality is that Barcelona’s efforts to comply with LaLiga’s financial fair play rules would still be greatly eased by the departure of the Dutch midfielder.

De Jong has already been warned that if he stays at Barcelona he will either have to get a pay cut or be used off the bench (as he was on Sunday) or even as a central defender (as he was in the US for season tour).

The club had hoped the prospect of him not playing in his position in the run-up to the World Cup in November would crack the player, but so far he has held up despite Barcelona signing a deal with Manchester United earlier this summer.

Barcelona store almost ran out of letter W due to demand for Robert Lewandowski shirt

Barcelona store almost ran out of letter W due to demand for Robert Lewandowski shirt

Barcelona are still hopeful that Chelsea will make a move for De Jong – the Dutchman whom United turned down for not being in the Champions League.

Barca’s treatment of De Jong, who is not being paid under the contract he signed in 2019 with previous president Josep Bartomeu, plus the wages he has postponed due to the pandemic, has been widely criticized.

Raphinha and some other Barcelona signings are yet to be registered for the new season

Raphinha and some other Barcelona signings are yet to be registered for the new season

Gary Neville urged the player to take legal action and this week former Dutch goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus joined the attacks on Barcelona.

He said: ‘I can no longer listen to the slogan ‘Més Que Un Club’ (more than a club). Barcelona is a commercial monstrosity, in my eyes it symbolizes everything that makes modern football so ugly.’

Waterreus adds: ‘The way in which Frenkie is now being blackmailed is a striking example of this. I hope he keeps his balance and stays unless they bully him further and ruin his own World Cup chances, in which case it would be better if he goes to United.”

If Barcelona succeeds in selling De Jong, they will bring Bernardo Silva over from Manchester City. If they can sell De Jong for the £70m they paid for him when they took him over from Ajax and bring in Silva for a similar price, they will.

The financial gain for them comes with wages as the City midfielder will earn a fraction of the Dutch international’s expected wage.

De Jong was handed a huge contract from previous Barcelona president Bartomeu and will net €20 million (£16.8 million) this season and a whopping €25 million (£21 million) the next wage-deferred campaign.

Barcelona are confident that a deal can be struck in the final days of the period as their relationship with both his agent Jorge Mendes and Manchester City is so good.

Xavi has put together a strong team and it looks like they are ahead of the new campaign

Xavi has put together a strong team and it looks like they are ahead of the new campaign

Selling Frenkie de Jong would ease the financial pressure and allow a move for Bernardo Silva (R)

The sale of Frenkie de Jong would ease the financial pressure and allow a move for Bernardo Silva (R)

Despite their financial shift this summer, credit rating agency Fitch doesn’t seem too optimistic about the club’s near-term future.

According to Elconfidencial.com, Fitch has rated a €470m (£396m) total debt of €1.2bn (£1bn) as BBB, but downgraded the outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’. If the credit rating were to be lowered, it would be in the area of ​​BB (junk bonds).

The pessimism about the club’s expected economic performance is said to have stemmed from the planned move from Camp Nou to Barcelona’s old Olympic Stadium in the 2022-23 season while the Camp Nou is under construction.

But that did nothing to dampen the enormous optimism generated by this close season. And a thumping win has only increased the feeling that Barcelona can win trophies this season.



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