Not everything Joan Laporta has done at the helm of FC Barcelona has been an unmitigated success, but credit where it is due. He was elected primarily to reduce the wage bill, which had grown to an unparalleled height, while maintaining the team competitive. He’s been able to do that to this point.
The club’s wage bill sits at 404.7 million euros, when it on 566.4 million last season, a total reduction of 161.7 million.
The departures of Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Franck Kessié, and Ansu Fati were key in the reduction. Then there were players that didn’t play for Barcelona last season but could have rejoined, but instead left, like Francisco Trincão, Nico González, Sergiño Dest, and Clément Lenglet. Finally you have other players with relatively low salaries, whose departures still contributed like Eric García and Ez Abde.
Five players came in, all relatively cheaply. Oriol Romeu was bought at a cut-rate price, Iİlkay Gündoğan and Íñigo Martínez were free, and João Félix and Joao Cancelo were loans. Their salaries were not extremely low, but they were fair for the quality of players they were brought in.
The mismanagement by Josep Maria Bartomeu made the wage bill balloon past sustainable levels. Basically, all players with a contract given by Bartomeu were too high for what Barcelona could bear. Most of those contracts are gone, with a few exceptions. Frenkie de Jong, the team’s highest earner, is the most important example. But it’s mitigated by the fact that he’s a key player and his salary is high in part due to a restructuring of his contract during the pandemic that backloaded payments to him.
Given that Barcelona won La Liga last season, it’s fair to say that Laporta has accomplished his goal to have a competitive team and to lower the wage bill significantly. Obviously, the key missing ingredient is UEFA Champions League success. Pushing past the group stage should be a minimum for this club, and there really are no excuses if there is a failure this season.
In the future Barcelona should return to regularly challenging for the Champions League. With time, finances should normalize. Barcelona is not out of the woods yet and what happens in the long term is obviously not known. However, things are holding up well in terms of salary reduction and the quality of the squad. Now, it’s up to Xavi and his men.