There’s no stopping Barcelona chief Joan Laporta. Reports have now reemerged of contact with Iñigo Martínez; César Azpilicueta and Marco Alonso remain on the club’s radar; and there’s also talk of a move for Bernardo Silva. Barça already have 33 players in a squad which, quite apart from the need to reduce the wage bill, will have to be cut to 25. That’s the maximum allowed as part of LaLiga boss Javier Tebas’ financial-fair-play rules, which are at the centre of the discussion right now. As things stand, Barça are failing to offload the players they need to get rid of, but Laporta is confident (as am I) that almost all of them will leave in the end. Whether it’s in the financial interests of those players and their suitors to stretch out the process as much as possible… well, that’s another matter entirely.
Barça out to avoid Milan’s slide into European wilderness
What Laporta is doing reeks of excess, but it has a clear explanation: AC Milan. The Italians had always been one of Europe’s powerhouses (indeed, they were Real Madrid’s semi-final opponents when Los Blancos won the inaugural European Cup, and were runners-up to Madrid two years later). Since the trophies’ inception, Milan had been a major player in Europe’s club competitions. Their continental silverware haul far outstrips Juventus’, despite the Bianconeri having many more Italian titles to their name. It’s a contrast that Milanisti point to as definitive proof that Juve play with the cards stacked in their favour in Italy, aided by the nationwide influence of owners FIAT. Well, anyway: the point is that, until last season, Milan spent seven years outside of the Champions League.
When Barça were at their lowest point last season, during the “it is what it is” months in which Luuk de Jong was the focal point of the attack and the Blaugrana even missed Martin Braithwaite when both were out injured, the club was terrified of becoming the next Milan. It was a thought that made Culés’ spines shiver. That fear of going down the same path as the Rossoneri is what allows us to better understand the spending spree Laporta has now embarked on, having found money where there was none (or, to be more precise, found money by comprising future revenue). It’s all aimed at giving head coach Xavi Hernández what he needs to prevent Barça from suffering the same traumatic experience as Milan.