Things are getting worse in Catalonia.
Joan Laporta, the last president to openly flaunt the extent of the insanity, just had his Mar-a-Lago property raided by the FBI this summer.
You would imagine that if Barcelona continue to display their recent propensity for financial manipulation, they could expect a similar level of unwanted attention from stern-looking career men in overly starched suits sooner rather than later.
The precise details of the Catalan giant’s financial implosion are both complex and tedious, but for the sake of brevity they boil down to this: “Barcelona have no money and yet they continue to sign players as if they have.”
In fact, their entire transfer policy is perhaps best summed up by this video of Eastenders’ Barry singing Labi Siffre at the bowls – you’d better believe they’ll do it anyway.
So far this summer, Barca have signed Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde, Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen. In the past, a stroll like this would have gotten you an admiring handshake from Dale Winton and a shot at the Super Sweep.
The catch, of course, is that none of them can actually be registered at this time. Welcome to Barcelona, La Liga’s NHS dentist.
The numbers are, diplomatically speaking, crass. Despite their gargantuan standing on the European stage, the club are £1.14bn in debt and will need to raise around £85m by Saturday if they are allowed to include their latest acquisitions in a domestic opener against Rayo Vallecano at the weekend.
Consequently, Laporta and his band of merry peasants are doing everything they can to thin out their expanding force. At this stage one might imagine the boardroom at the Camp Nou akin to the final stages of a failed apprenticeship, all agonized haggling and Bluetooth headset breakdowns.
Among those being forcibly led to the exit door are Frenkie de Jong, the Netherlands midfielder who is reportedly owed a small principality’s GDP in deferred wages, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the former Arsenal striker who died just seven months ago has apparently kicked off quite a fuss to plan a move to an Am-Dram follow-up spin-off directed by Nathan Fielder.
The former faces legal action as he continues to resist calls for a pay cut. In the latter case, he is unceremoniously abandoned with all the heartless disregard for a family pet left in a box by the side of the road. Remember folks, a capricious forward is there for life, not just the second half of a massively underwhelming league campaign.
Luckily for Barca, Chelsea are no longer owned by a Russian oligarch linked to Putin and so they might well be able to sign both. The joys of the beautiful game.
Elsewhere, the club has just barely held its own above the rising tide by activating a series of economic levers, or Palankasto collect money. The TV rights have been sold, as has a quarter of their in-house production company, Barca Studios. In fact, they are pledging a future that looks more precarious by the day.
So dire is their situation that there’s even talk of Kessie and Christensen, two of their brand new inexplicable quintet, leaving on a free transfer before they’ve even kicked a ball for the club. Camp Nou is in danger of turning into Kamp Krusty.
And despite everything, you would find it difficult to muster even an ounce of sympathy for Barca’s plight.
This is the same club that have campaigned so vehemently for the creation of a European super league (their enthusiasm makes more sense with every disaster that passes) and who ruthlessly crossed just about every moral and ethical line imaginable to steal Leganes A-forward Martin Braithwaite a few years due to an “emergency” injury crisis.
Let’s not forget that Leganes were then denied the right to sign their own replacement and were subsequently relegated, still not returning to the Spanish top flight.
You see, greed breeds greed, and what goes around comes around.
Barcelona have operated beyond their elephantine means for far too long and far too many enablers are happy to thrive at the expense of others.
No one wants to wish any real financial evil on a club, especially one so historic in continental football, but there’s no telling they didn’t bring it about themselves.