Barcelona have finally managed to register most of their summer signings ahead of the start of the new LaLiga season this weekend, with only Jules Kounde still to be registered.
Xavi Hernandez’s side kick off their season against Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou on Saturday, but the build up to that fixture has been dominated by the club’s race against time to get all their new arrivals registered.
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Barca have spent over €150 million this summer on Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Kounde, while Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie both arrived on free transfers.
Prior to Friday, however, none of them had been registered with LaLiga due to the league’s strict financial regulations.
The new contracts agreed by Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto had not been signed off by the Spanish league either. However, that duo was also able to be registered on Friday — along with Lewandowski, Raphinha, Christensen and Kessie — following the sale of another 24.5% of Barca Studios.
Barca’s summer spending has been funded by the sale of club assets, with each deal dubbed a “financial lever” by president Joan Laporta.
They sold 25% of their domestic television income for the next 25 years to Sixth Street in two separate packages worth €511m in total. They then sold 24.5% of Barca Studios to Socios.com for an additional €100m.
However, despite raising over €600m, Barca were told by LaLiga last week they would need to sell more assets — or further reduce their wage bill — to be able to register all their new signings.
Barcelona will now have to free up salary space in order to register Kounde. Because they are no longer exceeding their squad limit, though, the club will now just have to free up the equivalent salary space to what Kounde will cost.
On Friday Barca, whose gross debt still totals over €1 billion, closed a deal with Orpheus Media to sell off another 24.5% of Barca Studios for €100m.
Meanwhile, they are also re-negotiating Gerard Pique’s contract with the defender to create further salary space.
Speaking earlier on Friday, Xavi said he was optimistic that most of his new recruits would be available to him against Rayo Vallecano.
“We are working on it, we’re positive,” he said at a news conference. “We have announced the fourth lever and we will see tomorrow, maybe not all 100%, but we are optimistic. We have time until tomorrow.
“It hasn’t had much influence because working on systems, tactics, different variations … One player can play or another because we are doubled up in positions. We work on positioning, systems, variants … so not much changes. But right now, I repeat, we are very optimistic about the registrations.”
United States international Sergino Dest was omitted from Barca’s matchday squad for Saturday’s LaLiga opener amid speculation surrounding his future.
The defender has been linked with a move to Manchester United this summer, but his agent told ESPN that he will remain at Camp Nou this season.
All Spanish clubs must adhere to a spending cap for the season, which includes money spent on wages and transfer fees, which are amortized over the length of the contract.
The cap is loosely a club’s revenue minus outgoings and debt repayments and is applied prospectively. Barca’s cap was -€144m at the end of last season, the only negative limit in Spain, but it will rise significantly following the four financial levers triggered this summer.
Barca are not the only club having problems registering their players with LaLiga. Real Betis still have a handful of players not yet registered for the new season, while other clubs, including Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Girona, have had to wait until this week to register their summer activity.