Rumours that Philippe Coutinho could leave Barcelona this summer appear to have grown after president Joan Laporta’s stunning admission of the club’s debts.
It was widely acknowledged that the Catalans were in financial strife but the magnitude of their woes has now been revealed. Laporta stated that the Nou Camp giants have debts of €1.35bn (£1.15bn) and he described the situation as “very worrying”. The club’s wage bill currently accounts for 103% of total income.
Laporta laid the blame at the door of predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu, suggesting he left a “terrible inheritance”. It has already meant the unthinkable exit of star striker Lionel Messi and others could follow.
Players have been asked to reduce their wages in order to help the club get back on its feet. Some have done so, as Laporta revealed on Monday.
“We are happy to have resolved with (Gerard) Pique the issue (of registering new signings). To reduce salary is very admirable,” he added, per football.london. “In Kun’s (Aguero’s) case, it is not yet resolved, but we expect other captains to act like Pique.
“Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto have been very good, we understand it is a complex issue, but we are sure it will be sorted.”
There was no mention of Coutinho agreeing to a salary reduction. The Brazil international has been with Barca since January 2018 after they paid Liverpool £142m for his signature.
The South American has not had the expected impact and he spent 2019-2020 on loan with Bayern Munich. Last season was a disaster as he was sidelined from late December until June with a knee injury.
And the former Inter Milan star has been linked with several clubs this summer.
Arsenal among many Coutinho suitors
Everton, Wolves, West Ham United and Leicester are the other Premier League clubs that have been ‘contacted’ over the star. It seems inevitable that the LaLiga giants will have to sell more players this summer to try and stop the financial bleeding.
An exit for Coutinho makes sense as he has never reached the level he showed at Anfield in a Barcelona shirt. His wage demands are reportedly hampering an exit, with clubs unwilling to match his demands.
It remains to be seen if the Gunners move but their opening loss to Brentford suggests Mikel Arteta needs help. Laporta needs an influx of cash but is confident Barca will make it out the other side of the crisis.
“The situation is dramatic, but we have good news,” he continued. “Our strategic plan, and the experience we all have, gives us creditability, I am convinced that we will come through this.”