Javier Tebas
Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP

La Liga president Javier Tebas has declared that current league leaders FC Barcelona need to raise at least £178 million if they wish to take any part in the upcoming summer transfer window.

He made the statement on Thursday in London, while speaking at the Financial Times' Business of Football Summit. Tebas further stated that this money needs to be generated from player sales, given that the club had already used up several financial levers last year in order to generate funds.

For the past several seasons, Barcelona's financial situation has been in the spotlight. The club at least a billion pounds in debt, but they were somehow able to bring in expensive players like Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde last summer. This raised eyebrows all over the football world, but Tebas says that those days are over.

Robert Lewandowski (C) and Jules Kounde (R) were among Barcelona's big-name summer signings while the club failed to persuade Frenkie de Jong (L) to leave
Robert Lewandowski (C) and Jules Kounde (R) were among Barcelona's big-name summer signings while the club failed to persuade Frenkie de Jong (L) to leave AFP News

Barcelona managed to afford their 2022 summer activities after selling off club assets such as their TV rights and a part of their production company. However, they only managed to make a small dent into their massive debt, and now need to generate more cash and slash their current wage bill to stay within La Liga's salary cap.

It did not help that they crashed out of the UEFA Champions League group stage for the second year in succession. On top of that, they also managed to get knocked out of the Europa League early. This denied them of nearly £18 million in potential revenue which they now need to make up in other ways.

Tebas also took the opportunity to slam Barcelona after the club was involved in a scandal wherein they have been found to be paying Technical Committee of Referees vice president Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira for a number of years while he was still in position.

"Barcelona has been involved in questionable behaviour which has had an impact on LaLiga and we are acting accordingly. We have ruled that they can no longer sign more players," said Tebas.

He explained that La Liga will crack down on Barcelona's spending and will not allow the club to find other tactics to circumvent the system. "They sold off £620m (€700m) in TV rights and tried to find different ways to solve the situation but they won't be able to do that next season. We have strict economic controls. At the end of each window, we tell all the clubs in LaLiga what they can spend," said Tebas.

Apart from not being able to drop cash on purchases next summer, Tebas added that due to the club's current financial status, they also need to reduce their wage bill from £532m to £399m (€650m to €450m). This means that their budget has been reduced by £177m (€200m) from 2022-23.

Tebas is encouraging Barcelona to sell players to be able to meet the budget, saying that the club will then be able to spend 40% of what they make from sales.

Frenkie De Jong has been a target for Manchester United but is reportedly reluctant to leave Barcelona
Frenkie De Jong has been a target for Manchester United but is reportedly reluctant to leave Barcelona

The good news is, there are several players that could attract serious interest from other clubs. Manchester United target Frenkie de Jong will likely be approached by the Premier League side once more. Even though he was adamant about not leaving last summer, the Red Devils have improved by leaps and bounds this season. They recently won the League Cup and are sitting third in the Premier League. This is a far cry from the dismal situation they were in last summer.

De Jong may finally be tempted to reunite with former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag especially if Barcelona tries to cut his salary.

Meanwhile, Barcelona's patience with Ansu Fati is slowly running out, with the youngster failing to fulfil his role as Lionel Messi's heir apparent. Injuries have sidelined him for a large chunk of the past three campaigns, and the club may want to cash in on him instead.

The club currently have Samuel Umtiti, Hector Bellerin, Clement Lenglet, Alex Collado and Sergino Dest out on loan, and Barcelona may push for permanent sales this summer.

The money raised will help the club, but remember that they need that first and foremost to be able to stay within the salary cap for the players they wish to keep. Once that amount is met, that's the only time that they can think about making new transfer bids.

Xavi will unlikely be willing to let go of players like Lewandowski, Ronald Araujo and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, even though they are the ones who could attract the biggest money offers. The manager will be pushing the club to find other ways to resolve the financial issues without having to sacrifice his most valuable players.

Barcelona have their work cut out for them if they wish to stabilise their finances as soon as possible. They also need to clean up their image after having been embroiled in another controversy after the infamous Barcagate scandal that exploded in 2020.

President Joan Laporta is under immense pressure, but on the upside the club has been improving on the pitch under Xavi. They have lost out massively in Europe, but they are still in contention for the Copa del Rey and are on top of the La Liga table.

They will want to continue that upward trajectory in order to attract sponsors and to be able to convince their players to stay despite bigger offers elsewhere.