Could Barcelona afford to sign Haaland from Manchester City?

Peter Staunton
  • Updated: 29 Feb 2024 14:50 GMT
  • 4 min read
Rafaela Pimenta, Erling Haaland, Barcelona, 2023/24

Barcelona’s sporting director Deco has been spotted meeting with the agent of Erling Haaland.

Rafaela Pimenta, who inherited the client base of the late super-agent Mino Raiola, was in the Catalan city with Maxwell, a former Barcelona player and who was represented in his playing days by Raiola.

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Jijantes obtained footage of Deco arriving at the Via Veneto restaurant in Barcelona, as well as Rafaela and Maxwell, and footage later showed the trio leaving separately.

Catalan daily Sport reports that the restaurant has been the setting of Barca business meetings involving Deco and his boss, Joan Laporta, the Barcelona club president.

READ MORE: Barcelona’s 10 most expensive transfers of all time

While it is not known what was discussed, it would be intriguing if Haaland was on the agenda.

Fresh from scoring five in an FA Cup match against Luton Town, the Norwegian’s future is again being called into question.

Haaland future uncertain

Last month, amid reports that the 23-year-old was unsettled, the issue of Real Madrid’s interest was put to Haaland’s Manchester City club manager Pep Guardiola.

“If someone wants Erling, it’s easy. Call Man City and ask. It’s what we do when we want to sign someone. It’s not more complicated than that," he said.

Erling Haaland
© IMAGO - Erling Haaland

Haaland’s current contract expires in 2027 with a reported clause of up to €175m becoming active this summer. The club are hopeful that their star striker will extend terms but no deal has yet been agreed.

While €175m would represent incredible value for the world’s hottest striker, it’s unlikely that Barca could currently afford that much.

Can Barca afford Haaland?

The Camp Nou club are again in financial dire straits despite Laporta pulling various “levers” to assemble the squad which won LaLiga last season.

Large sums were lavished in 2022 on the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha while Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen were added as free transfers.

The expected departure of Frenkie de Jong to Manchester United, however, never happened.

The cash dried up last year with LaLiga cutting Barca’s wage ceiling from €649m to €270m.

It meant no deal could be done to bring Lionel Messi back to Catalonia and he went to Inter Miami instead.

Aside from Oriol Romeu for €3.4m, only free transfers and loans were added in the summer window.

Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo came in on loan while Inigo Martinez and Ilkay Gundogan were added on frees.

Barca did have sufficient headroom in January to add Vitor Roque from Athletico Paranaense for a €40m fee but appear to be potless yet again heading into the next transfer period.

Barca must sell to buy

Were they to add Haaland, they would be forced to sell first-team players to make ends meet. Sergi Roberto and Raphinha have been mentioned as possible candidates to be sacrificed while it has been reported that Araujo could attract a nine-figure bid from Bayern Munich.

“We can't think of Haaland or Mbappe,” outgoing head coach Xavi said in January. “Barcelona can't afford these players now, unfortunately."

Pimenta does not only represent Haaland, however, with Matthijs De Ligt, Noussair Mazraoui, Marco Verratti and the highly-rated Rennes winger Ibrahim Salah on the books too.

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