Barcelona can’t register nine of their 25 first-team players — here’s the state of play

Last August saw a number of players moved out against their wishes during the final days of the window. AFP
Last August saw a number of players moved out against their wishes during the final days of the window. AFP
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Updated 12 June 2024
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Barcelona can’t register nine of their 25 first-team players — here’s the state of play

Last August saw a number of players moved out against their wishes during the final days of the window. AFP
  • The Athletic reported last month that Barcelona must find about 130 million before June 30 or it will be very difficult to add new players to their squad due to how they overshot La Liga's salary limit during 2023-24
  • The club has been looking to find new investors for their troubled Barca Studios lever and to renegotiate and/or extend their deal with kit supplier Nike

Recent summers have brought plenty of drama at Barcelona as president Joan Laporta and his directors have looked to build competitive squads despite serious and ongoing financial problems.
That has often meant wheeling and dealing right down to the final day of the transfer window. Barcelona's board has found increasingly inventive ways to work within La Liga's salary limit regulations, including the famous levers of summer 2022 and 2023.
Last August saw a number of players moved out against their wishes during the final days of the window before Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo arrived on loan just before the deadline. Board members gave personal guarantees worth 18.5million to La Liga.
This year is sure to bring more such maneuvering. The Athletic reported last month that Barcelona must find about 130 million before June 30 or it will be very difficult to add new players to their squad due to how they overshot La Liga's salary limit during 2023-24.
This week, Barcelona sources, who, like all of those spoken to for this article asked to be kept anonymous to protect relationships, told The Athletic there was confidence that a solution to their need for 130m would be found by the end of the month. The club has been looking to find new investors for their troubled Barca Studios lever and to renegotiate and/or extend their deal with kit supplier Nike.
But no concrete details have yet been shared with La Liga and cashing in on squad assets such as Ronald Araujo, Frenkie de Jong or Raphinha cannot be ruled out. Especially as Laporta said this week: "We'd like to strengthen in holding midfield and add an out-and-out winger."
Meanwhile, as things stand, nine of the 25 players who started games for Barcelona in La Liga during 2023-24 currently cannot be registered for next season.
Sergi Roberto and Marcos Alonso are out of contract on June 30, when the loan deals for Felix and Cancelo also expire. That date also sees Inigo Martinez and Vitor Roque become unregistered with La Liga due to the unorthodox ways both were levered onto the squad list for last season.
Senior deals for La Masia products Alejandro Balde, Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi, and Hector Fort all still have to be formally accepted by La Liga. A legal battle with the league over the status of another homegrown youngster Gavi is also yet to be concluded.
Making it even more difficult to find space within the salary budget to add new names is that players returning from loans are all automatically registered for 2024-25. This means the hefty salaries of Ansu Fati, Eric Garcia, Sergino Dest, and Clement Lenglet are all currently being counted by La Liga for next season even if none of those players figure in the club's long-term plans.
Laporta and Barcelona sporting director Deco now have a series of difficult cases to resolve. It will clearly be quite a while before new head coach Hansi Flick's squad for next season is finalized. A source close to a player whose future is uncertain said: "It's going to be a very long summer."
Barcelona's current club captain renewed on a lower salary last summer. He then played 24 games during an injury-hampered campaign, scoring three goals and providing three assists.
Another 12-month extension was expected had his former team-mate Xavi continued as head coach, however nothing has been signed. Laporta is said to value the Catalan-born La Masia graduates representation of the club's values. Whether that contribution is considered valuable enough to offer him a new contract remains to be seen.
Marcos Alonso was always a strange signing and played just 389 minutes in all competitions last season.
A back issue has not helped, but even when fit the former Chelsea defender was well down the pecking order. The 33-year-old has surely played his last game for Barcelona.
Vitor Roque was meant to join Barcelona from Athletico Paranaense this coming summer for an initial 30 million plus a potential further 31 million in add-ons.
The Brazilian starlet was initially registered with La Liga in January as an emergency short-term signing to cover Gavis's injury. So the salary he was paid while mostly sitting on the bench for the last six months must now be subtracted from Barcelonas total available for the coming season.
Had Xavi continued as coach, a loan move for next season was being considered. His agent Andre Cury told Catalan radio in early May that we dont want a loan if he has to go, it will be a permanent sale. Laporta suggested this week the 19-year-old would be in Flick's squad next season.
Martinez signed a two-year deal when he joined Barcelona on a free transfer from Athletic Bilbao last summer. However, that contract was registered with La Liga for just one year to ensure he could be added to the official squad last August.
Xavi was a fan of the Basque's technical qualities and he played 25 games for Barcelona last season, despite some injury absences.
The 33-year-old is keen to continue at Barca. His future may not be decided until later in the window and depends on what happens with other players, particularly Araujo and Garcia.
We want the Joaos to continue and were working on them continuing another season, Laporta said this week. Flick considers them top-quality players and is counting on both.
This is despite both having had underwhelming 2023-24 campaigns. Cancelo made big mistakes in crucial moments and Xavi often left Joao Felix on the bench for big games.
Both are unwanted at their parent clubs, due to difficult relationships with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone.
The close relationship between Laporta and Jorge Mendes, who represents both players, looks just as important for their futures. Mendes also represents various other squad members — including Fati, Yamal, and Balde.
A quirk of Felix's arrival late last August was that Barcelona originally wanted to register him on a very low salary, but Tebas later confirmed that La Liga gave him a market value of 10 million under regulations designed to stop clubs from bending rules or underpaying players.
Center-back Garcia thrived on loan at Girona last season, being a key part of the Catalan side's surprise Champions League qualification.
That loan deal did not contain an option for a permanent transfer and Garcia has two more years on the contract agreed when he returned from Manchester City in July 2021.
"This summer I'll go back to Barcelona and we'll see what the club's plan is for me," he told The Athletic in March.
The 23-year-old also spoke in that interview about confusion at Barcelona in the final days of last summer's transfer window. Xavi said he was counting on him for the season, but the club hierarchy wanted to loan him out to make room in the salary limit to sign other players instead.
Fati was another who did not initially want to leave Barcelona on loan last summer. His experiences on loan were less fruitful than Garcia's.
The 21-year-old scored four goals in 30 games for Brighton but never really convinced Roberto De Zerbi that he was prepared for the demands of the Premier League. The Premier League clubs social media goodbye made clear they did not expect to be seeing him again any time soon.
A post shared by Brighton Hove Albion FC (@officialbhafc)
"It was a pleasure to play for Brighton, but now I'm back with my club and my family," Fati told Mundo Deportivo this week. "My dream remains to play for Barca."
Fati remains popular with many Barcelona fans and it is not long since he was seen as Lionel Messi's long-term successor in the number 10 jersey. However, the club's directors now realize the 10 million-plus annual salary agreed before injuries seriously affected his development is now a big problem.
US international right-back Sergino Dest spent last year on loan at PSV Eindhoven, having never really settled at Barcelona since joining for 21 million from Ajax in the summer of 2020.
Dest had an excellent season at PSV, contributing two goals and seven assists in 37 games before suffering a serious knee injury in April. This will see the 23-year-old miss the USMNT's Copa America campaign this summer.
The Dutch club has an option for a permanent transfer this summer and may now be able to drive a hard bargain. Barcelona will not want an injured player taking up space on their wage bill, especially one whose contract with them ends in June 2025.
Lenglet has not played for Barcelona since May 2022 after spending the last two seasons on loan at Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa.
The former France international, who turns 29 on June 17, still has two more years on the bumper contract agreed when he joined Barcelona from Sevilla in 2018, during Josep Maria Bartomeus's free-spending years as president.
That 16 million salary (inc tax) complicates matters. Barcelona was paying a significant chunk even while he was at Tottenham and Villa. A move to Saudi Arabia would resolve the problem for Barcelona, but the player himself appears keen to continue his career in Europe.
Gavis's long-term contract situation remains in a type of legal limbo.
Having emerged into Barca's first team aged 17, still on his youth team deal and wearing No 30, Gavi signed a first senior contract in September 2022 with a 1 billion release clause.
When La Liga said there was no room for that contract within that season's squad salary limit, Barcelona took a case to the Spanish courts and achieved a temporary injunction to ensure the player was not free to sign for another club last summer.
While waiting for Barcelonas Juzgado Mercantil (Commercial Court) No 10 to resolve the case, Gavi was registered with La Liga for 2023-24. He wore No. 6 for the first months of the season, until suffering a serious knee injury on Spain duty in November, and is still mid-way through a long recovery process.
Until the Barcelona court offers a final judgment on the legal case, doubts will remain over his long-term future.
Home-produced left-back Alejandro Balde signed a senior contract with Barcelona in September 2023 that tied him to the club until June 2028 with a 1 billion release clause.
However, Barcelona did not have space to formally register that contract with La Liga and still do not.
The 20-year-old's ability and potential mean he would be among the priority players to register first — assuming they make space this summer.
Teenagers Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi, and Hector Fort played big roles for the first team through the second half of 2023-24 and have all agreed to new contracts befitting their status as emerging stars of interest to richer clubs across Europe.
Yamal signed his first professional contract in October 2023, which lasts until 2026 and also includes the 1 billion release clause. Barcelona sources have told The Athletic that a longer extension is already agreed for when he turns 18 in July 2025.
Cubarsi recently agreed on a new deal that ties him to the club until June 2027. That was seen as vital as his academy contract includes a 10 million release clause and the player named in Spain's provisional Euro 2024 squad has a current market value already many multiples of that figure.

Recent weeks also saw full-back Fort, still 17, renew his contract, although only up until June 2026.
Given all the pressures on the salary limit and the uncertainty of the Gavi legal case, Barcelona is relying on these home-produced kids showing loyalty and ignoring potentially huge offers from elsewhere.
Formally registering them all as senior as senior players with La Liga would bring the protection of their huge release clauses and sighs of relief throughout the Barcelona family.


Professional Fighters League announces extra bouts for August playoffs

Professional Fighters League announces extra bouts for August playoffs
Updated 18 July 2024
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Professional Fighters League announces extra bouts for August playoffs

Professional Fighters League announces extra bouts for August playoffs
  • 2024 PFL Playoffs will see the return of Biaggio Ali Walsh to the SmartCage

NEW YORK: The Professional Fighters League has announced additional bouts for the 2024 PFL Global Season Playoffs in August.

On Friday, Aug. 2 in Nashville, the heavyweight and women’s flyweight divisions will take center stage.

In a marquee addition to the event, Tyrell Fortune (14-2) will face Sergei Bilostenniy (12-3) in a heavyweight alternate contest. In all, five early bouts have been added to an already stacked night of action.

Two weeks later on Aug.16, the light-heavyweight and lightweight playoffs will take place in Hollywood, Florida.

Biaggio Ali Walsh (1-0) makes his sophomore professional appearance against undefeated Korey Taylor (4-0) during the ESPN main card.

A light-heavyweight alternate bout pitting Antonio Carlos Jr. (16-6) against Karl Albrektsson (14-5) is confirmed, while a lightweight alternate fight between Elvin Espinoza (10-1) and Mads Burnell (19-6) is also official for the early card.

The playoffs will conclude on Aug. 23 in Washington D.C. with the welterweight and featherweight divisions.

A welterweight alternate bout pitting Neiman Gracie (13-5) against Luca Poclit (10-2) is confirmed, while a featherweight alternate fight between Tyler Diamond (14-3) and Enrique Barzola (20-9-2) is also official.

The PFL Regular Season has each winner of the six weight divisions receiving a $1 million purse.


Central Paris locks down for Olympics as athletes arrive

Central Paris locks down for Olympics as athletes arrive
Updated 18 July 2024
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Central Paris locks down for Olympics as athletes arrive

Central Paris locks down for Olympics as athletes arrive
  • The opening parade along six kilometers (four miles) of the river led to the closure of riverside central districts to most vehicles from 5:00 am (0300 GMT) on Thursday
  • Many central Metro stations will also be closed on Thursday until the day after the opening ceremony, which will see 6,000-7,000 athletes sail down the Seine on around a hundred barges and river boats

PARIS: French security forces began locking down large parts of central Paris on Thursday ahead of the hugely complex Olympics opening ceremony next week on the river Seine.

The opening parade along six kilometers (four miles) of the river led to the closure of riverside central districts to most vehicles from 5:00 am (0300 GMT) on Thursday.

Anyone wanting to enter the highest-security “grey zone” along both banks of the Seine, such as residents or tourists with hotel reservations in the area, will need a security pass in the form of a QR code.

The City of Light is transforming ahead of the July 26-Aug. 11 Olympics when around 10 million spectators are expected.

Temporary sports stadiums have sprung up at popular locations such as the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides or the Place de la Concorde, while new Olympic VIP lanes are the latest traffic-snarling addition.

“It’s true that our concept of having a large number of temporary sites in the heart of the city, obviously with that, there are constraints, but I feel like people are seeing what we’re doing,” Paris 2024 director general Etienne Thobois told AFP last month.

Many central Metro stations will also be closed on Thursday until the day after the opening ceremony, which will see 6,000-7,000 athletes sail down the Seine on around a hundred barges and river boats.

It will be the first time a Summer Olympics has opened outside the main athletics stadium, with up to 500,000 people set to watch in person from stands, on the river banks and from the overlooking apartments.

The vast security operation has been giving senior police officers cold sweats ever since it was announced in 2021 because of the difficulty of securing so many spectators in such a large, densely packed urban area.

Around 45,000 officers are set to be on duty for the July 26 parade, assisted by thousands of soldiers and private security agents.

On Wednesday, police in eastern France announced they had arrested a suspected far-right extremist who had made threats against the Games in a group on the Telegram phone application.

The installation of tens of thousands of metal security barriers all along the opening ceremony route in Paris has outraged some residents, who feel closed in.

“It’s a bit like being in Planet of the Apes,” Aissa Yago, who lives on the Ile Saint Louis in central Paris, told AFP this week from behind a barrier. “All they need to do is throw us some peanuts.”

Elsewhere on Thursday, the first athletes are set to arrive to take up residence in the newly built Olympic Village in a northern suburb of the capital.

Comprising around 40 different low-rise housing blocs, the complex has been built as a showcase of innovative construction techniques using low-carbon concrete, water recycling and reclaimed building materials.

It was intended to be free of air-conditioning, although Olympic delegations have ordered around 2,500 portable cooling units for their athletes out of fear of the impact of high temperatures on their performances.

“The major countries are going to arrive on the first day ... so Great Britain, the US, New Zealand, Brazil, Switzerland,” the deputy head of the French delegation, Andre-Pierre Goubert, told AFP.

At full capacity, the village will host 14,500 people including 9,000 athletes.

The Olympics will be followed by the Paralympics from Aug. 28-Sept. 8.


‘Counter-Strike 2’ blasts off week 3 action at Esports World Cup

‘Counter-Strike 2’ blasts off week 3 action at Esports World Cup
Updated 18 July 2024
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‘Counter-Strike 2’ blasts off week 3 action at Esports World Cup

‘Counter-Strike 2’ blasts off week 3 action at Esports World Cup
  • World’s biggest gaming festival runs until Aug. 25 at Boulevard Riyadh City

RIYADH: The Esports World Cup continued its third week of action on Wednesday with several sides starring in the “Counter-Strike 2” tournament at Boulevard Riyadh City.

In the qualification matches MOUZ won 2-1 against Sashi Esports, Team Spirit 1-0 MIBR, Navi 2-0 FURIA Esports, Virtus.pro 1-0 Complexity, Team Vitality 2-0 M80, FaZe Clan 2-0 FlyQuest, and G2 Esports 2-0 The MongolZ.

The winning teams now proceed to the “Counter-Strike 2” playoffs.

The eight-week Esports World Cup features a unique cross-game structure pitting the world’s top clubs and players against each other across 22 global competitions in 21 leading games.

The tournament has a prize pool of $60 million, the largest in the history of esports, and runs until Aug. 25.

More than 1,500 players, representing over 60 nationalities, are battling it out at the Esports World Cup.

Week three also features action from the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters” and “PUBG Mobile.”


LeBron James sees ‘much to improve’ before Olympics despite Serbia win in Abu Dhabi

LeBron James sees ‘much to improve’ before Olympics despite Serbia win in Abu Dhabi
Updated 18 July 2024
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LeBron James sees ‘much to improve’ before Olympics despite Serbia win in Abu Dhabi

LeBron James sees ‘much to improve’ before Olympics despite Serbia win in Abu Dhabi
  • After a narrow win over Australia on Monday, the stars and stripes were in commanding form against a Nikola Jokic-led Serbia
  • Lakers star: ‘We’ve still got so much room to improve but we want to continue to get better and not waste the opportunities’

ABU DHABI: LeBron James was pleased with the progress made by the USA in their 105-79 victory over Serbia in a friendly in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, but insists there is “so much room to improve” in the hunt for Olympic gold.
After a narrow win over Australia on Monday, that saw the United States nearly blow a 20-point lead toward the end of the clash, the stars and stripes were in commanding form against a Nikola Jokic-led Serbia.
Stephen Curry, who scored just three points in the USA’s 98-92 win over the Boomers, caught fire on Wednesday, opening the scoring with a signature three on the very first play and finishing the game with a team-high 24 points, shooting six for nine from beyond the arc.
“We drew it (the opening play) up for that particular reason, to get him going,” said James of Curry.
“He sees one go through the hoop, you see what it opens up for the rest of his game, for the rest of the game for all of us. He set the tone and we just tried to continue to keep finding him.”
Bam Adebayo also had a successful evening, coming off the bench to tally up 17 points, eight rebounds and a pair of assists.
The Miami Heat center combined seamlessly on defense with Anthony Davis, who had six blocks, six rebounds and seven points.
“Bam and AD together are really something,” US head coach Steve Kerr said.
“Just the switching, but they can also protect the rim and be in a drop if we go to that coverage.
“They’ll combine with the ball pressure that Book was putting on their point guard, I thought that really set a tone for us.”
Serbia, who lost to Australia on Tuesday, were once again without Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, who was on the bench but did not play.
Reigning NBA MVP Jokic had a double-double 16 points and 11 rebounds but it was not enough to halt the formidable Americans, whom they will face again in their Olympics opener in Lille, France on July 28.
“We’ve still got so much room to improve but we want to continue to get better and not waste the opportunities. I felt like tonight we got better,” said James, who is gunning for his third Olympic gold medal this summer.
Kerr made one change to the starting lineup he deployed against Australia two days ago, keeping Jayson Tatum, James, Joel Embiid and Curry on the floor but opting for Jrue Holiday instead of Anthony Edwards.
Curry scored nine points within the first two minutes before Serbia picked up the pace with back-to-back threes from Aleksa Avramovic giving them an early 12-9 lead.
Kerr continued with his hockey subs pattern during these exhibition games, taking off all five starters midway through the quarter to bring in Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Davis, Adebayo, and Devin Booker.
It was Edwards who reclaimed the lead for USA, going four for four from the free throw line with 38 seconds left on the clock. Vanja Marinkovic had other ideas though, his buzzer-beating layup making sure the first quarter ended with both teams on level terms.
Curry, Edwards and Adebayo helped the USA pull ahead, and the Americans were never in trouble again beyond that first quarter.
Kerr is happy with the strategy he’s been applying so far, of subbing all five starters with an entirely new second unit and alternating those two groups every five minutes in the game.
“I think the identity of the team is our depth, the strength of the team is the depth,” said Kerr.
“And so, if we can play in four, five-minute bursts of just playing intense defense, hitting bodies, rebounding, being physical, then it makes sense to play that way.
“We’ll see if we keep doing it but for now, it’s allowed groups to get together, AD and Bam for example, Steph and LeBron, kind of learn how to play together, having a better feel for each other.
“The strength of our team is just the depth and so if we have to play that way, we’ll play that way.”
The USA head to London next, where they have two final exhibition games scheduled, against South Sudan on Saturday and reigning world champions Germany on Monday.


Carapaz ticks off Tour victory as Evenepoel edges Pogacar, Vingegaard

Carapaz ticks off Tour victory as Evenepoel edges Pogacar, Vingegaard
Updated 18 July 2024
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Carapaz ticks off Tour victory as Evenepoel edges Pogacar, Vingegaard

Carapaz ticks off Tour victory as Evenepoel edges Pogacar, Vingegaard
  • EF rider Carapaz dropped Simon Yates and soloed the final 10km to win his first ever Tour de France stage after finishing third overall in 2021
  • Stage 18 on Thursday is billed as one of the prettiest, with lakes and mountains in Haute Provence and an opportunity for the one-day specialists during a 179km ride from Gap to Barcelonnette

SUPERDEVOLUY, France: Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz won stage 17 of the Tour de France after the remnants of a breakaway finished ahead of the main pretenders in the High Alps on Wednesday.

EF rider Carapaz dropped Simon Yates and soloed the final 10km to win his first ever Tour de France stage after finishing third overall in 2021.

The former Giro d’Italia champion, who won the Tokyo Olympics road race, also wore the overall leader’s yellow jersey after his efforts in the second stage to Bologna.

“That was a big day for me,” Carapaz said. “I suffered but I put a cross on an objective.”

“How special it feels, I owe so much to my team,” he said of the American Education First team who will be delighted with their two million euros a year new signing.

Overall leader Tadej Pogacar, defending champion Jonas Vingegaard and Remco Evenepoel kept their powder dry until late in the medium mountain run.

The trio then produced an entertaining scrap with third-placed Evenepoel finishing 12 seconds ahead of Pogacar, with Vingegaard losing two seconds to the leader.

The relentless Slovenian said his attack was off the cuff.

“I enjoyed it, I don’t know what to say, I tested my legs and theirs. I thought I might be able to get away, so I had a go,” said the 25-year-old Pogacar.

Pogacar had been the first to try his luck and Vingegaard was unable to follow.

Evenepoel however closed the gap while Denmark’s Vingegaard then caught them both on a daredevil descent after picking up the wheel of a teammate who had been in the early attack.

“Well done to Visma for their tactics,” Pogacar said.

Belgian Evenepoel then broke again, and finished strongly to consolidate his third place overall.

A group of over 30 riders broke away early on a balmy day in the south as they climbed to the ski resort of Superdevoluy.

Nursing knee and elbow injuries, Biniam Girmay retained the green jersey for best sprinter with 387 points to Jasper Philipsen’s 354.

“It’s never easy a day after a fall, but I felt okay today,” said the Eritrean who will race at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Girmay spoke excitedly about the reaction back home where he said “from two in the afternoon until the end of the race everyone goes out onto the streets to watch the race or listen to it together.”

Stage 18 on Thursday is billed as one of the prettiest, with lakes and mountains in Haute Provence and an opportunity for the one-day specialists during a 179km ride from Gap to Barcelonnette.

The final three stages are all potential game changers, with Friday’s run taking the peloton to 2,800m altitude before a huge descent.

Saturday is also mountainous and features another downhill finale.

But the final stage could shake up the standings even more with a 34km individual time trial from Monaco to Nice.