5 Barcelona players linked with transfers amid their money struggles

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Frenkie de Jong playing for Barcelona in La Liga. Camp Nou stadium, April 2022.

Despite being one of the biggest and most successful clubs in the world, Barcelona are currently in a financial mess – and it means they could be forced to sell players.

The Spanish giants spent an eye-watering amount of money on wages and transfer fees during Josep Maria Bartomeu’s presidency.

Barca were famously not able to register a new contract for Lionel Messi, who joined Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent last summer.

“When we arrived, we could not pay the salaries for the month of May,” current president Joan Laporta said recently. “The economic entities had not received their instalments for three months.

“We were almost dead. When we arrived, we managed to revive the club, we restructured the club and its debt.”

But the Balugrana still need more work to reduce the club’s debt and balance their books. We’ve taken a look at five players recently linked with a move away from Barcelona who they may look to cash in on.

Frenkie de Jong

Let’s start with the big one.

De Jong joined Barcelona from Ajax in a £63.5million deal and has been one of the first names on the team sheet, making 140 appearances in all competitions.

But the Spanish side are willing to let him leave as they have just signed Franck Kessie on a free transfer and also have some brilliant young midfielders in Gavi, Pedri and Nico Gonzalez.

“De Jong is basically the only sale Barca can close with a certain value,” a source told The Atheltic. 

Erik ten Hag, who worked with De Jong at Ajax, is now in the dugout at Manchester United and has made the midfielder his top transfer target.

There’s only one problem. De Jong doesn’t want to go anywhere.

“I prefer to stay with Barcelona,” the midfielder told ESPN in May. “Barcelona is just my dream club. Also from a young age, I just said it, too.

“I’ve never regretted my choice despite the fact that I had hoped for more in terms of prizes than I’ve achieved so far. But I have never regretted my choice.”

According to reports, he must accept a hefty pay cut to stay at Camp Nou. But De Jong doesn’t want to reduce his wages, especially when Barcelona owe him €17million in deferred salary payments.

Consequently, Barcelona have been in conversations with United over a potential transfer. Both sides have reportedly agreed to a €65million fixed fee but are still discussing the structure of the €20million add-ons.

Christian Eriksen during France against Denmark, UEFA Nations League Group Stage at Stade de France, Paris, France. 03 June 2022.

READ: 8 options to replace Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona: Eriksen, Soler…

Samuel Umtiti

Signed as a highly-rated 22-year-old from Lyon in 2016. Umtiti enjoyed a promising start to his Barcelona career and also lifted the 2018 World Cup with France.

But consistent injury problems derailed his progress, and the centre-back made just one first-team appearance during the 2021-22 season.

Barcelona have been trying to work out a way of offloading Umtiti for the last two years, but he kept refusing to leave Camp Nou.

The 28-year-old has reportedly changed his mind this summer and looked set to join Ligue 1 side Rennes until they pulled out of the deal due to doubts over his fitness.

Barcelona are now left to find a new suitor for the defender but Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Roma, Lazio, Fiorentina and Girona have all been credited with an interest. 

“We aren’t ruling out Umtiti signing for Girona,” Pere Guardiola, Pep’s brother and Girona board member, said recently. “[But] for these things, speak to [sporting director] Quique Carcel and [manager] Michel.”

Miralem Pjanic

More than a few eyebrows were raised when Barcelona decided to trade Arthur Melo for Pjanic in 2020. It was a dodgy deal, likely executed to balance the books and work around Financial Fair Play.

The midfielder failed to make an impact and made just six La Liga starts in 2020-21 before spending last season on loan at Besiktas, who decided against signing him on a permanent basis.

He’s been linked with a return to former club Lyon and a move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr, but he might need some convincing.

“For now, I imagine staying in Barcelona for another two years and finishing the contract,” Pjanic told La Repubblica in May. “Then, we’ll see. Never say never.”

Lyon's Miralem Pjanic after scoring against Olympique de Marseille at Gerland stadium in Lyon, France. 08 November 2009.

READ: Remembering Miralem Pjanic’s time as Juninho’s heir at Lyon

Franciso Trincao

Despite the fact that Trincao hadn’t even made 50 first-team appearances for Braga, Barcelona decided to spend €31million on him back in 2020.

The winger scored three goals and showed glimpses of his talent during 2020-21 but it soon became clear that the big-money move had come too soon in his career.

“It [a move to Spain] was the first challenge that he had outside of his comfort zone and I do not think it was the best moment to be joining Barcelona as a young player,” Jose Carvalho Araujo, who worked with Trincao in Braga’s youth teams, told Sky Sports.

“It was a transition stage for the club with all the troubles that they had with Lionel Messi and the board.”

As a Jorge Mendes client, Trincao naturally ended up going to Wolves last summer on a season-long loan deal. But he failed to set the Premier League alight, registering just two goals and one assist in 28 appearances. 

Wolves had a €25million option to buy the Portugal international on a permanent basis but ultimately decided against it. 

Trincao now looks set to return to Portugal as Sporting, who are managed by former Braga boss Ruben Amorim, have agreed to pay €10million to secure his signature. 

Barcelona will retain 50% of any future sale and also have a buy-back clause that is valid for the next three years.

Memphis Depay

Depay had an up-and-down season after arriving on a free transfer from Lyon last summer, scoring just 13 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions. 

The Netherlands international only signed a two-year contract and has reportedly been told that he’s not part of Xavi’s plans for next season.

Xavi, who replaced Ronald Koeman in the Barcelona dugout last year, has already signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and is now looking to bring in Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha.

Depay, who previously spent 18 months at Manchester United, could now return to the Premier League and has been linked with Everton, Tottenham and Chelsea.

Spanish journalist Gerard Romero has reported that a Premier League team has tabled a €23million offer but Barcelona are currently holding out for €25million. 

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