Three players closest to Barca exit as club races to register new stars

Martin Macdonald
Barcelona’s €65m bust: Why it’s gone wrong for Miralem Pjanic

Barcelona are currently working tirelessly to reduce their wage bill in order to meet La Liga salary regulations.

After the departure of Lionel Messi, the club is currently spending around 95% of their annual turnover on player salaries.

According to new rules introduced by La Liga, this percentage must come down to 70% if Barcelona are to be allowed to register any new players.

As Messi's contract had expired and he was officially no longer a Barca player, he would have counted as a new player if the club brought him back, which is why he was ultimately forced to join Paris Saint-Germain.

At the moment, Barcelona are unable to register Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia for this weekend's opening match of La Liga versus Real Sociedad.

There is some confusion over whether Emerson Royal and Yusuf Demir will be eligible, as some believe the former effectively returned on loan from Betis, while Demir is technically on loan from Austria Wien.

Sergio Aguero also cannot be registered, but he is injured for 10 weeks anyway.

The Blaugrana are attempting to move on a number of players to not only raise funds, but also to, more importantly, get them off the wage bill.

Before Messi left, Antoine Griezmann was the number one player on that list, but whether the club like it or not, he is now their main man up top, so he'll likely stay.

Who are the club looking to move on with the most immediacy?

Miralem Pjanic

In order to achieve some creative accounting, Juventus and Barcelona swapped Miralem Pjanic and Arthur Melo while also exchanging transfer fees.

Pjanic cost Barcelona €60 million, while Melo cost Juventus €72m.

Unfortunately for the Bosnia international, the deal to bring him to Barcelona was agreed before new head coach Ronald Koeman took over, and it was fairly clear from the get-go that the Dutchman wasn't a fan.

Pjanic started just 13 matches in all competitions in 2020/21, with just six of those coming in La Liga.

Even when Koeman switched from a 4-2-3-1 to include an extra midfielder in a 3-5-2, youngster Pedri's emergence left Pjanic still on the bench.

A return to Juventus has been mentioned.

Samuel Umtiti

Samuel Umtiti made the move to Barcelona in 2016 when the club signed him from Lyon for a reported €25 million.

However, while the French defender has performed well for the Spanish giants on occasion, injury has certainly dogged his time in La Liga.

Samuel Umtiti

Samuel Umtiti

In total, Umtiti has missed an incredible 83 games through numerous injuries and ailments since joining the club in 2016.

He has featured in pre-season for Barcelona, but was actually whistled at by his own fans in a recent win over Juventus - just like Pjanic and Griezmann.

At the moment, nobody is willing to take on his wages and Barcelona have even attempted to release him completely, only for the player to reject that proposal.

Martin Braithwaite

Martin Braithwaite has been at the club for around 18 months, having been scrambled from Leganes in February 2020, when he arrived as an emergency transfer due to injury problems at the club.

Martin Braithwaite

Martin Braithwaite

Barcelona spent a princely €18 million on the player, matching his release clause but above his typical market value. Now, with the club desperate to find funds, they are hoping to sell him for around €15m.

The Blaugrana belief there is a market for the Denmark international from the Premier League.