The problem when football clubs see athletes as assets

If the sale of Emerson Royal in Tottenham was a bit strange – he had officially joined Barcelona a month earlier – it is the departure o...


If the sale of Emerson Royal in Tottenham was a bit strange – he had officially joined Barcelona a month earlier – it is the departure of Antoine Griezmann that will sting the most: the sheer humiliation of allowing a player signed with great pomp two years ago to return, initially on loan, at Atlético Madrid.

Still, that couldn’t be helped: Barcelona’s most pressing need was to first save money, then raise funds, and at the end of the transfer window, that was exactly what he had done. . Lionel Messi is gone; Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto all accepted reduced terms; Griezmann is out of the payroll. By next summer, when his move to Atlético becomes permanent, Barcelona will have generated $ 115 million in sales.

What Barcelona couldn’t do, of course, was sell the players they most need to sell: high incomes, waning stars, reminders of their crazy years. Philippe Coutinho, Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti are still there. Barcelona don’t have much in common with Real Madrid, but here, perhaps, there is common ground.

Whether Real’s approach (or approaches) to seducing Kylian Mbappé this summer has been real or not, we’ll never know, not really: Real Madrid insist that Paris St.-Germain are adamant. Regardless, the club have spent the past two seasons trying to raise the funds needed to sign Mbappé, 22: funds that would have been used as a transfer fee or a golden handshake.

To do this, he would have liked to sell players like Gareth Bale and Isco: big names for money to match. But no one came forward and Real Madrid had to cash in on a series of promising youngsters: Achraf Hakimi and Sergio Reguilón and Óscar Rodríguez last season and Martin Odegaard this summer.

Politics have worked, of course, but it brings with it an inevitable question: how much better Real Madrid’s future would have been, how more balanced his squad would have been had he been able to add Mbappé to a promising young team, rather than having to sell a lot of these players to finance their eventual arrival?

The same question hangs over Barcelona. Emerson, like Junior Firpo and Carles Aleña and Carles Pérez and Arthur before him, might not have made Barcelona great, but he would at least have helped rejuvenate an aging squad. Instead, it was sold, as they all were, to cover the costs of the mistakes of the past. Barcelona’s finances are in better shape now than they were a month ago. The price is high, however: he had to mortgage tomorrow to pay yesterday.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The problem when football clubs see athletes as assets
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