The world is going through a very difficult situation due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most countries are in lockdown and not only has this virus affected everyday life, but it has changed world football. 

Many clubs have incurred huge losses due to COVID-19, which has affected the summer transfer window for the majority of European clubs. Clubs will be forced to reconsider their summer transfer targets, with a lack of revenue from gate receipts being one contributing factor.

Earlier this year, Barcelona boasted of their €1 billion in revenue with income stronger than ever at the club in February.

The club has since called the pandemic the “biggest health, economic and social crisis in modern history,” and are now willing to sell their stadium’s naming rights. The rights to the Camp Nou would be sold to generate revenue for the global fight against the coronavirus, but Barca is also open to a much longer naming arrangement with a sponsor. Barca’s current debt is approximately €460m. 

Despite all the off the field issues, the Blaugrana have been in the market this year for two big-name players: Lautaro Martinez [Inter] and Neymar [PSG]. Lautaro, who has been Barcelona’s ideal candidate to replace Luis Suarez, has a release clause of €111m, but Barca have no intention of paying the clause. Instead, they will consider offering two players and cash. 

In February, Lautaro Martinez to Barcelona in the summer was becoming a real possibility. The clubs had already begun negotiations for the player and everything was going to plan, however, the recent crisis has led to a temporary stoppage in negotiations. 

There is still however the possibility of the Argentine striker switching to La Liga this summer. Lautaro favours a move to Spain, but is also reportedly open towards the possibility of staying in Italy, as may be required. 

In Paris, things aren’t as simple as they are in Milan. Barcelona want Neymar, the player they’ve been trying to replace since selling to PSG in 2017. This deal is even more complicated than ever before. Barcelona prefer to negotiate formally with PSG, like last summer and try to reach an agreement over a possible swap deal involving cash and players.

Another potential option, which is even more complicated but not ruled out, is to make this switch happen through FIFA’s Article 17. This law states that a player can terminate his own contract from the club after he has completed three seasons. Once this particular season is over, Neymar can terminate his contract at PSG. He would have to inform the club 15 days prior to when he’s going to make the move. However, Neymar wants the assurance that Barcelona will really go for him this summer, as per Catalan daily sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo. If he gets the assurance, then he could terminate his contract. 

As there are no release clauses in France, FIFA will set Neymar’s release clause based on several conditions. The global crisis has caused a reduction in the prices of most players. According to Neymar’s agent, Wagner Ribeiro, the 28-year-old has a fixed price through FIFA and he would cost €164m. 

The chances of Barcelona signing Lautaro Martinez and Neymar in one summer are very low, but it may not be impossible to sign at least one of them.

Barca have also made it clear to other clubs that they will be listening to offers for several players other than the three “untouchables”, Lionel Messi, Frenkie De Jong, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen. 

Arthur Melo has been linked with a move to Juventus in a swap deal with midfielder Miralem Pjanic but the Brazilian has made it clear that he wants to stay at Camp Nou this summer and will continue to ignore all offers. 

Another player with his future up in the air is Philippe Coutinho. Bayern Munich will not activate the purchase option of the Brazilian, meaning he will return to Barcelona this summer. It had been reported that Barca wanted to sell or loan him out, however it’s becoming more likely that he will end up staying in Barcelona. Quique Setien is a fan of the player and other clubs may not be able to match the demands of the player.

Jean-Clair Todibo joined Schalke 04 from Barcelona in January on a six-month loan deal. He has impressed at the Bundesliga club with brilliant performances at centre-back and a player of the month award. Schalke were interested in keeping the Frenchman on a long-term basis and were open towards the possibility of activating the purchase option. However, due to their poor financial condition and the impact of COVID-19, they are unable to do so. Everton are the latest club believed to be interested in taking him away from Catalonia. 

One guarantee is that Barcelona will have cash plus players involved in any transfer exchange that takes place when the next window opens. Due to a lack of funds at clubs across Europe, this will be part of the ‘new normal’.

H.B.