Barcelona are selling more assets in an attempt to register players

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Barcelona team players celebrate after winning the Joan Gamper Trophy match between FC Barcelona and Pumas Unam at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, ​​Spain, Sunday, August 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

PA

Working against the clock, Barcelona sold even more of their club’s assets in hopes of complying with Spanish league financial rules so that Robert Lewandowski and his other signings could play in the season opener.

But still, just a day before Barcelona are due to welcome Rayo Vallecano to Camp Nou, the Spanish league had yet to declare seven players eligible that coach Xavi Hernández wants to have at his disposal.

Barcelona said on Friday it had agreed to sell 24.5% of its Barca Studios production facility to Orpheus Media in a deal that would earn it 100 million euros ($103 million).

Last month, Barcelona sold an initial 25% stake in its production center to Socios.com, a blockchain provider, for an additional €100 million along with 25% of its Spanish league television rights for the next 25 years for nearly 670 million euros ($689). million).

In total, the heavily indebted Catalan club have mortgaged their future for 870 million euros ($895 million) in order to sign Lewandowski to lead their attack, with winger Raphinha and defender Jules Koundé for a total of 160 million. euros ($165 million).

But the Spanish league has strict financial requirements that limit how much clubs can spend on player salaries and transfers depending on the clubs’ financial health. Despite efforts to cut costs and pay off debt, Barcelona still hold €1 billion ($1 billion) in debt and have seen their salary cap reduced by the league in recent seasons.

The club hopes that this new injection of an additional 100 million euros will contribute enough to its financial balance to convince the league to declare its players on standby eligible.

But, as of Friday afternoon, the league had not registered Lewandowski, Raphinha, Koundé, free agent arrivals Franck Kessié and Andreas Christensen, or Ousmane Dembélé and Sergi Roberto, who both signed new contracts recently after the expired and are therefore considered new recruits by the league.

Xavi said he was “optimistic” about the availability of his new players for the first game of the season.

“Everyone at the club is very optimistic,” Xavi said. “We have until two hours before the match.”

The club are also pushing to sell players with big salaries like Frenkie de Jong or players unwanted by Xavi like Samuel Umtiti and Martin Braithwaite.

Teams have until the end of the month to register new players if they want to play in the Spanish league this season. Real Betis are also still waiting to register several players.

Orpheus Media is run by Catalan businessman Jaume Roures, owner of Mediapro, a major television company involved in Spanish football but whose 2020 broadcast rights deal for the French league collapsed. Roures was a key backer for Barcelona club president Joan Laporta when he returned to lead the financially-struggling club in 2021.

Roures said on Friday he wasn’t sure the money he paid Barcelona would be enough.

“The league will have no problem with this operation,” Roures told Cadena SER radio. “If the 100 million euros is enough, I don’t know. If not, the (required) amount should be close to that.

Xavi also said that Barcelona might not be done signing new players, but any arrivals should come after the current players are sold. Barcelona are linked with interest in Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, who would compete with Jordi Alba at left-back.

The club’s most pressing task, however, is to avoid the embarrassment of having Lewandowski and company watching from the stands on Saturday.

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