Beware: Things can only get better for Barça

In the first of two reports about the giants of the Spanish game, Pete Jenson reveals that reports of a Catalan demise are premature

The world would appear to be Barcelona's oyster. After all, on Sunday they provided seven of the starting XI that won Spain their first World Cup. As praise was showered on the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol – all Barça men – the fact that only Barcelona players scored for Vicente del Bosque's side in South Africa seemed to imply that the trophy should reside in the Nou Camp alongside the host of honours the Catalan club have won in the past two years.

Yet in the very week of Spain's historic triumph, Barcelona's new president Sandro Rosell was finalising a €150m (£126m) loan without which, he had implied last week, the players would not be paid. The club that had just conquered the globe seemed to be paying a heavy price for that success.

Rosell now claims the reality is rather less dramatic. Barça pay their players twice a year and one of those two dates is the end of July. The club were also faced with a temporary cash-flow problem brought about by doubts when the estimated €123m due to them from MediaPro, the majority television rights holders of La Liga, would arrive for next season. Having to pay half their entire wage bill in one go while also needing working capital to pursue summer transfer targets such as Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas left them stretched, hence the loan, which had in fact been pre-arranged by the former president Joan Laporta.

On Tuesday Rosell oversaw his first board meeting, having been elected last month, and appeared to contradict himself slightly by suggesting the loan secured from a group of 25 banks, led by La Caixa and Banco Santander, has been taken out because the club had not been financially well-managed by Laporta. The former Nike executive then boasted about being able to secure €5m more than Laporta, and claimed that the extra credit obtained was a sign of financial good health.

The new man's message was that Barça's huge earning potential has made it rich – but with better stewardship it should be even richer. That will almost certainly mean no Cristiano Ronaldo-sized bid for Fabregas .

Had Laporta not already served his maximum three terms of office the fiercely nationalistic lawyer, who is now dedicating his time to politics and to campaigning for an independent Catalonia, might have pursued his dream of an all-Catalan Barça (plus Lionel Messi) at all costs. Rosell will be more prudent.

Barcelona have debts of between €200m and €400m depending on which candidate you believed in the build up to last month's presidential election. But like their great rivals Real Madrid they are able to use their powerful position to tap into such credit. Real borrowed a large part of the €250m they spent on new players last season. Both clubs benefit from rarely being turned down by national financial institutions whose customer bases are largely made up of the two clubs' supporters. The fact that Real and Barça take the lion's share of TV revenue in the Spanish game gives them another advantage over top English clubs, who share their payments with smaller teams. It is a situation that has hung various Spanish teams out to dry since the recession began and contributed to the 25-point gap between Valencia in third and the top two in La Liga last season.

As well as having the front three that started both the semi-final and the final of the World Cup for Spain – Pedro, David Villa, newly arrived from Valencia, and Andres Iniesta – Barça also have Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to complete their striking resources. The Swede will stay unless somebody can match the €40m paid to Internazionale for him last season. Inter also got Samuel Eto'o into the bargain, but that will be forgotten if Barcelona can raise a face-saving figure.

If he remains, then the Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, who won his own battle with Rosell yesterday by remaining true to his preference for short-term contracts, signing a one-year deal instead of the proposed three-year contract, will try to take advantage of Ibrahimovic's freshness after a summer spent just watching the World Cup on TV.

In defence Barcelona need a left-back and a reserve right-back to cover for Dani Alves. They will look to promote from their youth team to cover central defensive shortages caused by selling the Ukrainian Dmytro Chygrynskiy back to Shakhtar Donetsk for €10m less than the €25m he cost a year ago.

But it is in midfield where all attention will be focused. Yaya Touré has left for Manchester City and, if the versatile Iniesta stays up front, where he won the World Cup for Spain, then that leaves Xavi, Sergi Busquets, Seydou Keita and little in reserve. Barça's next move for Fabregas could be their last, such is the club's need to draw a line under the affair and either bring home the 23-year-old Arsenal captain or concentrate their time and financial resources on another player. Guardiola has demanded the issue does not drag on through pre-season as he tries to prepare his players for what could be their toughest season yet.

A cloud on the horizon has appeared in the substantial form of Jose Mourinho, who takes charge of pre-season training at Real Madrid's Valdebebas complex this morning. Their biggest rivals will be re-energised by the man who masterminded their defeat in the Champions League last season.

Ibrahimovic and the other non-World Cup performers return to work on Monday. They embark on a short Asian tour on 1 August before Barça's World Cup heroes return for the final preparations on a campaign that, with or without Fabregas, will see them fight Mourinho's Real on the home front and look to deliver a third Champions League in six seasons, at Wembley – where they won it for the first time back in 1992 – next May.

Tomorrow: Mourinho's Madrid

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'