Barcelona Keeps its Head In Times of Galactic Inflation

LA blaugranaCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2009

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 25: FC Barcelona's president Joan Laporta looks on during the Thierry Henry press conference to announce his signing with FC Barcelona, on June 25, 2007, in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Bagu Blanco/Getty Images).

The Madrid-based press has been giddy of late.

Their Real Madrid had already signed three Galacticos, and Barcelona hadn't managed a single signing. Barcelona's president, Joan Laporta, insisted that he was "tri-tranquilo", in obvious reference to the treble won by his team last season.

Even so, there seemed to be a nervousness creeping into the writings of the Catalan press. Despite having the most complete squad in Spain (and Europe?) there remained a few tasks to be resolved. In the wake of Madrid's profligate spending, the market has inflated, and it has become difficult to sign anyone for a reasonable price.

Valencia is a club on the verge of bankruptcy, who earlier this spring admitted that they would be forced to sell their best players to reduce their enormous debt. Since the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, they have been holding out for an offer of "scandalously scandalous" proportions.

Franck Ribery was Barcelona's top target at the beginning of the summer, but with Bayern determined to hold on to him, and half of Europe waiting for his price to come back down to Earth, it looks unlikely that he will be joining.

With Deportivo la Coruña it is much of the same. Club president Augusto César Lendoiro has been in negotiations with Barcelona for weeks. He too is playing hardball over the price of Felipe Luis, who was the best left back in La Liga last year.

Barcelona's problems are compounded by their limited transfer budget. Laporta is entering the final year of his time as president, and does not want to leave the club saddled with debt.

It is all well and good for a club to defend its interests. A club has every right to hold onto players it does not want to sell. This is beyond debate everywhere outside of the posh Madrid neighborhood of Concha de Espina.

What is debatable is when clubs play transfer hard ball with players they need to sell. Both David Villa and Felipe Luis have expressed a desire to move on, and have had multiple meetings with their presidents to facilitate a deal. Both clubs have reacted to their player's wishes by raising their asking price.

Barcelona sporting director Txiki Begiristain had to console a tearful David Villa when negotiations broke down yesterday, if reports are to be believed.

A fool and his money are soon parted, as they say, but Begiristain is nobody's fool.

The first official signing of the summer will be Maxwell, who will be arriving from Inter in exchange for €4.5 million, plus another €500,000 in incentives.

When the news broke, Lendoiro sent a desperate response to Barça's official offer that had been sitting on his desk since July 10th. It seems the €20 million he had been demanding were not inflexible after all. It is the case of too little, too late for the Galician businessman, who is now €8 million poorer and has a disgruntled star to deal with.

Begiristain still has work to do, but completing the summer's first signing for less than €5 million when Madrid have already spent over €220 million is a declaration of intentions.


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