Barcelona transfers: Financial situation and how they are able to afford players despite €1 billion debt

Despite being €1.3 billion (£1.1b/$1.3b) in debt at the end of 2021, Barcelona haven’t shied away from spending big this summer. 

With the recent agreement to sign Sevilla star Jules Kounde, the Catalan club are poised to take their transfer spree this window past €150 million (£125m/$152m).

While Franck Kessi and Andreas Christensen have arrived on free transfers, Kounde along with Raphinha and Robert Lewandowksi haven’t come cheaply. 

To further complicate matters, Barcelona have only pocketed a transfer fee for Philippe Coutinho so far this window with four other players leaving for nothing at the end of their contracts.

How are Barcelona able to buy players despite their debt?

“It’s the only club in the world that can buy players without money. It’s kind of weird and crazy,” Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann recently said of Barcelona’s financial situation. 

The German isn’t the only one confused by Barca’s transfer dealings but the Spanish giants have essentially been relying on what are known as ‘economic levers’.

These levers are used to alleviate the impact of existing debt and activated by selling assets of the club to bring in long-term revenue. 

For Barcelona this has involved selling portions of the club’s TV rights and part of their Licensing and Merchandising (BLM). 

“They have sold 10% of their TV rights for €207 million. Then they increased that share to 25% which I think gives them some €350 million more. That would be €500 million and I think they have another third lever worth around €200 million,” La Liga president Javier Tebas explained in late July via SPORT

“With that and if they manage to get some players to leave, this explains the possibility of these signings.

“They have been able to sell assets, which was something they needed to do, and to reduce salaries – that’s what allows them to sign.”

On August 1, Barcelona secured more funds by selling 24.5 per cent of Barca Studios for €100 million. 

Laporta is confident his team have done what’s necessary, saying: “We have done the job well and we believe that we meet all the requirements.

“The documentation has already been sent and we are waiting for the response from the league. There may be some disparity, but we understand that there will be no problems because we have complied with everything and the players will be able to register.

“If not, we are prepared to apply a fourth [economic] lever and we will do it.

However, on August 5, Spanish newspaper SPORT claimed the club would need to activate the fourth lever, the other 24.5 per cent sale of Barça Studios, and lower their current salary level.

The report claims if the club cash in on Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay it would get them to it.

MORE: Latest Barcelona transfer news and rumours

Will Barcelona be able to register their new signings?

Barcelona were forced to say farewell to club legend Lionel Messi last season mainly due to the fact they couldn’t comply with La Liga’s salary cap rules. 

This remains a concern this season as the Spanish club once again look to juggle the huge wages of their star players. 

According to Marca, Barca must sell and loan out a number of players so that they can register their new signings before the start of the new La Liga season. 

Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay are prime targets the club wants to offload and these departures will likely free up space to register the likes of Lewandowksi, who took a pay cut to seal his move to Camp Nou

“Barca are on the right track to register signings. They still have some details to complete, but they have time,” Tebas said.

“I can say that they know the rules well and they know what they have to do.” 

Who have Barcelona signed this window?

Date Player Position Age Club Transfer/Loan Fee
July 4, 2022 Andreas Christensen CB 26 Chelsea Free transfer
July 4, 2022 Franck Kessie CM 25 AC Milan Free transfer
July 15, 2022 Raphinha RW 25 Leeds United €60.7m (£52.5m / $63.8m)
July 20, 2022 Robert Lewandowski ST 33 Bayern Munich €45 million (£38m/$48m)
July 28, 2022 Jules Kounde CB 23 Sevilla €50m (£41.9m/$50.8m)
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