Barca ‘optimistic’ over Haaland transfer – but can they really dream of big names amid dire financial straits?
A new week should bring fresh stories, but in Catalonia, the local sports newspapers continue to hash out variations of the same transfer saga unfolding at the Camp Nou.
Following his exploits in the Champions League, Haaland is their new Neymar or Lautaro Martinez from last season, i.e. huge names that were scheduled to make their way to the Catalan giants before the coronavirus poured cold water on everything surrounding the club.
On Monday morning, SPORT claim that there is 'optimism' over the signing of the Borussia Dortmund sensation, which extends a running theme of improved Blaugrana morale on the whole.
After all, following their worst year in recent memory, Barca have now been transformed under Ronald Koeman.
Despite a slow start, the Dutchman has them second in La Liga, unbeaten in 18 games, and already through to Copa del Rey final.
Gems such as Pedri, who cost a mere $5.8 million from Las Palmas, have been uncovered and made full Spain internationals, while also helping Lionel Messi love his football again.
Now tipped to stay beyond contract expiry on June 30, the Ballon d'Or winning-skipper has had a dramatic change of heart since attempting to force an exit last summer.
The Argentine accused then-president Josep Bartomeu of failing to keep his word and honor his wishes, but it is the appointment of his successor through elections earlier this month that has altered Messi's thinking and ignited the Haaland buzz.Also on rt.com New Barcelona president Joan Laporta ‘targeting Erling Haaland & David Alaba’ in Camp Nou overhaul despite reported debt of $1BN
Voted in for a second reign, the charismatic, cigar-smoking Joan Laporta won over socios longing for a return to his sextuple-winning glory days of the Pep Guardiola era.
Whereas Bartomeu bungled talks to land much-needed center-back Matthijs de Ligt, who instead opted for Juventus, Laporta harbors a strong relationship with his super agent Mino Raiola - who represents Haaland too.
Yet it more than just a charm offensive that will get any deal over the line.
Dortmund continue to deny that a $88 million release clause set to be activated in 2022 exists. But while Barca believe that it will force them to sell this summer, neither this figure nor others ranging from $176.5 million to $235 million are realistic for the La Liga giants.
One of the hardest-hit clubs by the pandemic, they are drowning in debts of a reported $1.37 billion, of which $859 million is due short term and $313 million has a deadline of June 30 on Messi's expiry day.Also on rt.com ‘Neymar will play with Messi again’: Agent claims football superstars will realign at Camp Nou as Barcelona ‘prepare Haaland bid’
'Optimism' aside, SPORT concede that the transfer is dependent on "selling one or two starters" and clearing the wage bill of high earners. Easier said than done.
In this market, who would pay top dollar for injury-ridden misfits Philippe Coutinho or Ousmane Dembele - despite the latter being in improved form - or a 30-year-old Antoine Griezmann?
The last two windows have not seen any takers for the likes of Samuel Umtiti either - substitutes when not on the operating table, who are more than happy to ride out high-paying arrangements disastrously struck by Bartomeu.
"What is clear about the club is that there will be only one top signing this [upcoming] season. A single investment which must be on a center forward," write SPORT.
But maybe it's better not to get too excited it'll be Haaland, if anyone of repute at all.
Lyon's Memphis Depay, long fancied by Koeman from their days together with the Holland national team, might be as good as it gets.Also on rt.com ‘I know that there is interest’: Lyon star Memphis Depay confirms Barcelona WANT HIM this summer