Barcelona set to sign Manchester City’s Ferran Torres despite questions about how they can afford it

The rebuild at Barcelona may include a Spanish international being at the center of the project. Barca are close to finalizing a €55 million deal for Manchester City attacker Ferran Torres, according to CBS Sports soccer insider Fabrizio Romano That would see the talented Spaniard move back to Spain after less than two seasons in England, while also showing the clear differences in mentality, philosophy and execution of transfers at each club. Torres went from Valencia to City two seasons ago for half of the reported transfer fee, meaning City are doubling what they paid for him while Barca missed the opportunity to get him relatively cheap and are now paying twice what they could have spent on him a couple years back.

But the move for Torres, which hasn’t been officially announced yet, raises some questions. How can a club like Barca, strapped for cash and unable to do anything of note financially in the summer, pull this off?

The answer is, truthfully, unknown. How can a club that couldn’t even resign Lionel Messi because of his wages afford a player in Ferran who is expected to cost that much? Messi’s salary being off the books is what helped them meet the salary cap for this current season but did not leave them in a position to spend this much.

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With the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules, Barcelona would need to balance the books quite a bit to make a move like this work. Over the summer, Barca brought in about $50 million in profits from transfers, sending Emerson Royal to Spurs, Junior firpo to Leeds, Jean-Clair Todibo to Nice and Carles Alena to Getafe. 

In terms of boosting their squad, all they could afford were the free transfers of Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero, while getting Luuk de Jong on loan. When you look at what they brought in, it really paints the picture of how dire things were … and how they were expected to continue.

Now, perhaps a deal with Ferran is close due to potential departures also being close. Sergino Dest has somewhat disappointed in Spain since arriving, and a move away from the club has been hot in the rumor mill. Players who could also exit include Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho, though Dembele’s situation is pressing. His contract expires in the summer, so Barca could risk losing him for nothing except the benefit of increased financial flexibility. 

In the coming weeks or potentially in the summer, significant sales may be needed to balance those books. There are two different sets of regulations which Barcelona must wrestle themselves into compliance with. The first is FFP regulations which say that you must break even, which means you cannot spend more income than you generate (from transfers, wages, finance costs and dividends), though the regulations off a reasonable time horizon to meet those obligations. After a net gain of about $50 million in the transfers over summer, maybe Barca have a little wiggle room or have come up with a creative way to pay, such as installments. But, secondly, Barcelona must meet La Liga’s own financial regulations. Those are, in fact, more stringent, and more complicated than FFP, and it was those rules which forced Barca to let Messi walk over the summer. How Barcelona could make this expenditure, pay Torres a competitive wage and not have to offset that money by shaving wages off the books elsewhere is anybody’s guess.

Regardless, Xavi is going to hope Ferran can build off his 13-goal season from a year ago. This season he’s largely been injured, playing in just seven games but having scored three times with playing as a false nine. Ferran has not played since Sept. 11.

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