La Liga preview: Can Barcelona problem Real Madrid after post-Lionel Messi revamp?

Drastic motion was taken in an try to start balancing the books, together with a participant hearth sale, the slicing of the squad’s wages and, essentially the most damning of all, letting Lionel Messi — the best participant within the membership’s historical past — depart the membership totally free.

Regardless of these efforts, final season the Catalan big nonetheless needed to minimize the squad’s wage invoice to be able to register any of its new signings.

Most predicted that this summer season the membership must stay frugal to proceed untangling itself from these monetary constraints completely of its personal making, however that hasn’t been the case.

Barcelona has now spent round $160 million on participant transfers and signed a few of European soccer’s most coveted gamers, together with Robert Lewandowski, Jules Koundé and Raphinha.

As Bayern Munich boss Julien Nagelsmann lately described it: “[Barcelona] is the only club in the world that have no money, but then buy all the players they want. I don’t know how they do it. It’s a bit strange, a bit crazy.”

Nonetheless, within the brief staff at the least, fears across the membership’s incapability to register its new stars have been allayed barely by the activation of a number of financial “levers,” within the phrases of Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

The levers in query contain the sale of 25% of its La Liga tv rights for the subsequent 25 years to US agency Sixth Avenue Funding, reportedly for round $530 million, and 24.5% of the membership’s stake in Barça Studios to for 100 million euros ($102.1M).

The membership is reported to have additional financial levers on the prepared if it finds La Liga would not agree with its accounting and refuses to permit the registration of Barça’s new glut of expertise.

“We’re doing our homework to be able to register players,” Laporta instructed ESPN. “We have done these financial operations to save the club and to sign new players. I hope we don’t have to do anymore.

“It’s a managed threat. If we’ve got to get well the plan of [selling further club assets], we’ll weigh it up, however we consider we are able to register the brand new signings with this deal.

“First, we have to register the players we have signed and resolve the futures of the players not in the manager’s plans [before signing more players],” Laporta added. “After that, we will see what we can do. The coach wants more reinforcements.”

Nonetheless, earlier this week Spanish press started reporting that Barcelona was nonetheless round $40 million in need of with the ability to register all of its new signings, that means it’s now probably the membership must activate its fourth “lever,” the sale of one other 24.5% of the membership’s stake in Barça studios.
Jules Kounde was one of the most sought after players in Europe.

Expertise galore

It stays to be seen how these monetary injections will influence the Blaugrana in the long run, however for now it ought to enable the membership to discipline, on paper at the least, a aggressive squad that might maybe slender the hole on defending La Liga champion Real Madrid.

Nonetheless, catching Los Blancos and eradicating the 13-point distinction that separated the 2 groups on the finish of final season looks as if a tall order.

Not solely has Real held onto all the key gamers concerned in final season’s La Liga and Champions League double, in midfield starlet Aurélien Tchouaméni and defensive anchor Antonio Rüdiger it has added two of essentially the most sought-after gamers in Europe.

With the additions of those stars to an already gifted squad — notably rising teenage sensation Eduardo Camavinga — Real’s Brazilian midfielder Casemiro believes the staff can problem for trophies on each entrance this coming season.

“Last year, Camavinga showed that he can do very well, and I believe that Tchouaméni and Rüdiger are players who can come in and help the squad,” Casemiro instructed CNN en Español. “They are important players for us.

“After all, every time a participant of this stage arrives, they’ll assist us to win trophies as a result of we all know that, to win competitions, you need to have a squad, not only a staff. I believe we’ve got to have plenty of good gamers and every time gamers arrive with this high quality, it all the time helps us.

Antonio Rüdiger was Real Madrid's star signing this summer.

“In recent years, we’ve had a good dressing room with good people, they are friendly. It’s a very calm dressing room and it’s very easy to be with the players. I am sure that, from the first day, they will feel very comfortable, they will feel that everyone is very friendly and the locker room is very, very calm.”

Moreover, there may be one participant in Real Madrid’s ranks who 2022 Champions League Closing hero Thibaut Courtois believes might be one thing of a secret weapon this season.

Ever since his $130 million transfer to the Spanish capital in 2019, Eden Hazard has been beset by accidents and mustered simply 66 appearances in that point. Nonetheless, having spent a number of coaching periods collectively along with his Belgium teammate through the preseason, Courtois is assured that Real followers will now see the Hazard of previous.

“It depends where the coach plays him — the Hazard of Chelsea played out wide and the Hazard of Belgium plays in a 3-4-3 as an interior and not as a forward,” he instructed reporters throughout Real’s preseason tour of the US. “But I think he’s doing well and has also had only one week of training, but I’m sure he can help the team a lot.

“We’ll should see when Karim [Benzema] returns how we are able to play with Eden, however they’re questions for the coach. I belief in him [Hazard], he feels good, he is been doing nicely this week in a number of coaching periods and has held up bodily, so his accidents are up to now.

“The other day, Rodrygo gave him a good kick in training,” Courtois laughed, “and Eden got up quickly. So I think there are no longer any problems.”

Following one of the best particular person season of his profession, during which he scored 44 objectives in 46 video games, Benzema has continued to show simply how essential he’s to this staff, scoring two objectives in two video games on his return to the facet in preseason.

The Frenchman then netted one other in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday to raise the UEFA Tremendous Cup, his 324th objective for the 14-time European champion, placing him second on the membership’s all-time scoring record behind solely Cristiano Ronaldo.

Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Super Cup to win its first trophy of the season.

Better of the remaining

Real’s metropolis rival Atlético, which in some way completed third behind a struggling Barça final season, is but to discover a dependable substitute for veteran striker Luis Suárez, who returned dwelling to Uruguay to play for childhood staff Nacional.

Álvaro Morata is returning to the membership after his season-long mortgage at Juventus, however primarily based on his earlier performances for the membership, it appears unlikely the Spaniard would be the solutions to Atleti’s attacking woes.

Nahuel Molina is available in from Udinese to switch stalwart Šime Vrsaljko at proper again and Saúl Ñíguez returns from a completely unsuccessful season on mortgage at Chelsea, however a Champions League place is probably going all Atlético can hope for this season.

Among the many remainder of La Liga’s normal suspects, Sevilla — regardless of including Isco from Real Madrid and Alex Telles from Manchester United — seems significantly weaker than final season after shedding its first alternative heart again pairing of Koundé and Diego Carlos.

New central defender Marcao, signed from Galatasaray, definitely has massive sneakers to fill and might want to carry out instantly if Sevilla need to problem for the highest 4 as soon as once more.

Last season’s Copa del Rey winner Real Betis, which paired that cup success with a fifth-place end in La Liga, has retained a lot of the key items from its squad, shedding solely Hector Bellerin again to Arsenal following the tip of his mortgage spell.

The staff can be bolstered by the additions of central defender Luiz Felipe and thrilling Brazilian prospect Luiz Henrique, who has reportedly been wowing his new membership in pre-season coaching.

However with a secure squad, thrilling signings and no off-field distractions, Real Madrid already seems just like the staff to beat in La Liga this season.