A month ago, Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann said what everyone who doesn’t own a vintage Seydou Keita jersey was thinking: “The only club that has no money, but buys every player they want. I do not know how. It’s kind of crazy.”
This was after Barcelona acquired 33-year-old Robert Lewandowski, scorer of 35 goals for Nagelsmann in the Bundesliga last season, for $49.5 million. Raphinha had already arrived from Leeds for $63.8m. It seemed “crazy” then … and then they spent another $55m on Sevilla defender Jules Kounde. They’ve also signed free agents Andreas Christensen from Chelsea and Franck Kessie from AC Milan, as well as resigning both Sergi Roberto and Ousmane Dembele once their previous contracts expired at the end of June. Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso is expected to join soon, and the club is reportedly still interested in Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva. The latter seems like a fantasy too far, but well, so did everything else until it all happened.
The how of all this — a club with over a billion dollars in debt and described as “clinically dead” by president Joan Laporta last season suddenly spending more on transfer fees than anyone else in the world — has been hashed out by many of our writers already this summer. In a word, which you must be sick of by now: levers. They’ve sold off a quarter of their future domestic broadcast revenue and a quarter of their in-house production company for a short-term cash infusion north of $600 million. More levers are being pulled, too, with news early on Friday — just 30 hours or so before their season opener, a home date with Rayo Vallecano — that the club was selling more in order to be able to register its signings.
Instead, I want to focus on a different question: why? Why is this once-great club selling off its future for a still-uncertain present? Can this really be as obviously short-sighted as it seems?
Laporta will make you think that they had to do this, that there was no choice but to totally revamp the squad with hundreds of millions of dollars of loans put toward a massive transfer outlay. However, that’s just not true.
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