The megaproject of the Barça, before the abyss

Sergi Fonti

Barcelona

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The roadmap of Josep Maria Bartomeu during its last years of mandate it was designed to try to reign in Europe. His great obsession was to see the four professional sections of the club (basketball, handball, futsal and roller hockey), which had been joined by women’s football, raising the Champions of their respective sports. And he spared no expense to try to achieve it without caring that they were deficient, because, according to the former president, “they are part of the club’s DNA.”

Obsessed with regaining prestige in Europe (Barça does not win the Euroleague since 2010 has not played a Final Four in the last seven years) and for contesting hegemony in Spain by Real Madrid, He spared no expense. The last ones, that of Calathes last summer (he will charge five million for three seasons) or that of Pau Gasol a few months ago. Several teams have questioned the disbursement of the Catalan club, which after losing last season in the final of the Endesa League renewed the succulent contracts of Oriola y Kuric, in addition to closing the coach’s signings Jasikevicius and the aforementioned Calathes. With them two, the Barça club broke the salary limit, ending the 30 million barrier in salaries that seemed impossible to overcome a few years ago. “Barça must have a salary limit similar to that of the NBA”, then joked Shane Larkin, a Fenerbahçe player and one of the highest paid in Europe, only surpassed by Mirotic (8 million). With Higgins, Brandon Davies, Abrines or Claver, the arrival of Gasol has completed a squad full of talent that is already the most valuable on the continent above that of CSKA, Real Madrid or Fenerbahçe himself.

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A pharaonic project which is reeling this season after the irregular trajectory in the Euroleague quarter-final playoffs that today (Palau Blaugrana, 9:00 p.m., DAZN) has its final outcome against Zenit de Saint Petersburg, a team whose budget is far from the one it manages the Barça team.

Losses of 30 million

Win or die. Barça faces tonight the game that will decide if it qualifies for the Final Four and he can aspire to storm the tournament, a goal that Covid thwarted last year when the competition came to a halt with the Catalans thrown into their third Euroleague. The impact of the economic crisis, the situation of the Catalan club and the exorbitant salaries that the glittering culés stars perceive make it unfeasible to maintain the project for another season if the titles do not arrive. The section estimates to close this season with losses of 28.8 million euros (they have increased by 29% in two seasons due to waste in transfers). The net amount of its turnover barely exceeded 12.3 million euros, while it invested more than 35 million euros in personnel expenses.

Everything that is not beating the Zenit tonight will be a failure. Like the tumble they took in the last game of the series (74-61) in Saint Petersburg and that caused Xavi Pascual Come back to Palau Blaugrana today. The last technician to wear the Euroleague the Museum could issue the European death certificate of the culés this season. As expert in detecting the weak points of the rivals as in minimizing their virtues, the Catalan is managing to cancel the main argument of Barcelona in this series of quarters, Nikola Mirotic. “Beating Barça three times is practically impossible, but we will try,” says the coach, who has renewed with Zenit for three seasons.

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All the pressure falls on Jasikevicius, which has the most expensive staff in Europe. The coach has given several attention to his players and today he expects a reaction. Win or die.

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