Barcelona's perspective on Philippe Coutinho's transfer
After failing to acquire Philippe Coutinho, back in September, 2017, Barcelona’s director of professional sports, Albert Soler, claimed that Barcelona “won’t get involved" in the Neymar-inspired hyperinflated transfer market as they don't believe in that model.
The club even claimed that Liverpool were ready to sell Coutinho for an asking price of €200 million. However, the board refused to pay and wouldn’t put their heritage at risk by bending to such excessive demands.
The irony, is that exactly 5 months later, Barcelona Football club finally completed the transfer, which would ultimately be worth up to €160 million, making the Brazilian the 3rd-most expensive player of all time, only behind Paris Sant-German pair Neymar (€225 million) and Kylian Mbappe (€180 million).
So, why did Barca give in to the demands of the market after vehemently taking a “stance” to not be a part of the “superheated” market?
The truth of the matter is, Barcelona failed to sign Coutinho due to the “definitive” stance taken by Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group. There were rumours that the club was willing to listen to astronomical prices towards the end of the summer window.
But, there was no real prospect of backtracking having made such a significant public announcement. Since then, Liverpool had been desperately in search of a replacement of Coutinho, knowing fully well that the Brazilian’s dream destination is and has been Camp Nou.
The owners, however, had been steadfast in their position that the exit will be on their own terms and conditions with the prospect of ensuring maximum earnings from the deal. For Barcelona, Coutinho is the player they had earmarked since last year as a long-term replacement for the ageing Andres Iniesta.
It is widely reported that within closed quarters, they convinced Messi to sign a new contract with the promise of bringing in young world-class talents. Last summer, the targeted moves for Marco Verratti from Paris Saint-Germain, and Nice’s Jean Michael Seri collapsed due to chaotic, and somewhat poor recruitment policies of the club.
Desperate times call for desperate measures
To make matters worse, they lost Neymar to PSG amidst continuous public backlash and criticism. Having lost the Coutinho battle to Liverpool last summer, the club were ostensibly desperate to rejuvenate their fan base as soon as the transfer window opened.
Last year, Barcelona reported a record revenue of €708 million. The club’s debt-to-earnings ratio is roughly two-to-one. Almost 66%-70% of its expenditures go towards player salaries. The squad is the highest-paid in the world due to some world beaters like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Luis Suarez etc.
It is reported that Coutinho will become the 3rd-highest wage earner only behind Messi & Suarez. The Catalan club has a “strategic plan” in place to reach revenues of €1 billion by 2021, including a sub-plan to increase the capacity of the stadium to 105,000 seats, modernizing the stadium, etc.
It will cost them a staggering sum of nearly €600 million. Any conservative would have believed that the proceeds from Neymar deal shall go towards fixing some of its balance sheet issues.
However, the club is ambitiously optimistic over its future.
Club President Josep Bartomeu in a recent radio talk show said “the outlook is even stronger now. We tested the market for the naming rights, and it's going to end up being more money than we thought at the beginning."
New naming rights, and improved deals with Nike are some intended ways of accruing fresh funds that the club is heavily banking on, to meet its spiralling wage bills.
Whilst “won’t get involved in the superheated transfer market" was more of a desperate attempt to calm down the nerves, in reality, they were already part of the “game of the market” when they signed up French winger Ousmane Dembele for €105 million.
Notably, Barcelona are now adamant to prove that they can afford to pay for Coutinho in a bid to re-energise their squad, and more importantly, their worldwide fan-base. The arrival of Philippe Coutinho is certainly done. The outlook of Barcelona's optimistic financial future, though, is still a glaring question mark.
Disclaimer: This article reflects the views of the author and does not necessarily reflect Sportskeeda's opinion on the matter