Barcelona and Juventus adjust to life without Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo amid financial woes

In football-rich Spain and Italy, club football often means seeing the same names at or near the top of the table. The striped Barcelona and Juventus jerseys have won domestic titles at such a high rate that it sometimes seemed their path to glory was a mundane and inevitable conclusion.

But as the pandemic has gripped Europe, both clubs face financial problems. Juventus have recorded losses of more than $ 135 million for the first six months of the 2020-21 season, compared to $ 47.9 million for the 2019-20 season.

Debt is an even bigger problem for Barcelona. As of March 21, the debt stood at $ 1.59 billion, according to team president Joan Laporta.

A victim of financial problems has been the departure of the two best footballers of the past 15 years. Lionel Messi left Camp Nou for Paris, while Cristiano Ronaldo left Turin after three seasons to return to Manchester United.

Both parties seem to know each other’s misfortunes. Juventus sent Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic to Barcelona for around $ 70million. Barcelona then sold Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo to Juventus for around $ 84million, essentially a trade. Financial Times columnist Simon Kuper noted that the payments were not actually made and were for accounting purposes.

Debt is a problem for several of Europe’s top clubs, which was probably one of the main reasons for the controversial Super League project. Too little surprise, Barcelona and Juventus were among the 12 founding members of the proposed league.

Shares of Juventus (JUVE.MI) jumped 18% to $ 0.9195 on the Milan Stock Exchange on April 19 after JP Morgan announced a “welcome bonus” for founding member clubs. Juventus shares closed at $ 0.7155 on Friday.

Juventus and Barcelona’s debt problems may seem a bit more alarming than for other big clubs, especially for Barcelona after strange and criminal circumstances in March including the arrest of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu and other senior officials for allegations of embezzlement and corruption. in a social media scandal.

The club are said to have paid around $ 1 million to a marketing consultancy firm to smear current and former players as well as the club’s presidential candidates.

Barcelona and Juventus are unlikely to experience a huge drop on the pitch due to solid infrastructure. However, the club lack the deep superstar talent they once boasted. Juventus have loaned dozens of players and, with Ronaldo, went from four players for a relatively low transfer fee without adding any big names. In the recent transfer window, Barcelona mostly added players on free transfers and received around $ 70million from players they sent to other clubs.

The drop can be unsettling for those following at European clubs, as the dominant competition from Barcelona and Juventus was seen as routine, as was an elite and burgeoning pool of talent. In the World Cup qualifiers, Spain only had one player in Barcelona’s under-32 roster. In the Guardian’s annual Top 100, the current top-rated Juventus player is No.39 Paulo Dybala.

Both clubs are slowly starting the 2021-22 season. Barcelona are in sixth place in La Liga, while Juve are in ninth place in Serie A.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that Barcelona had Luis Suarez, Neymar, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. The Catalans frustrated their opponents with impressive ball possession. Juventus have a proud history of the best playmakers in the world. When it was not the French legends Michel Platini, it was Zinedine Zidane then Paul Pogba. Pavel Nedved and Andrea Pirlo got the zebra engine running.

Will the two titans be able to regain their dominant status despite the need to clean up their accounts? Can the club improve its finances and compete for top talent? Other clubs have faced the same challenge, but the lingering pandemic could make things more difficult.


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