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Summer of Upheaval Ends At Barcelona As Griezmann Leaves & De Jong Arrives

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Dutch striker Luuk De Jong and France’s Antoine Griezmann both featured at this summer’s European Championship

In only one summer transfer window nearly everything has changed at Barcelona.

With over £1bn worth of debt, Barca embarked on a cost-cutting offload that saw captain and legend Lionel Messi move to Paris St-Germain.

Then on deadline day they let £107m signing Antoine Griezmann rejoin rivals Atletico on loan – the 11th player to leave the club this summer.

Coming the other way was former Newcastle striker Luuk de Jong, joining on a season-long loan from Sevilla.

It is the second successive season that Barca have strengthened their rivals. Last season Luis Suarez fired Atletico to the title after joining from Barcelona.

Barcelona’s forwards now consist of new signings: Dutch forward Memphis Depay, former Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, on-loan Austrian teenager Yusuf Demir, De Jong, plus Denmark striker Martin Braithwaite and the injured 18-year-old Ansu Fati, who has been given Messi’s iconic number 10 shirt.

Barca will pay 31-year-old De Jong’s salary this season and have an option to make the Netherland international’s stay permanent next summer.

Atletico take on Griezmann’s salary this term, but there is a compulsory clause to make the transfer permanent.

Griezmann was the third transfer deadline day sale from Barcelona. Right-back Emerson Royal joined Tottenham for £25.8m and teenage midfielder Ilaix Moriba moved to RB Leipzig for £13.7m.

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Barca’s summer departures

Lionel Messi – PSG on free transfer

Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid on loan

Emerson Royal – Tottenham for £22.5m

Ilaix Moriba – RB Leipzig for £13.7m

Junior Firpo – Leeds United for 13.5m

Jean-Clair Todibo – Nice for £7.6m

Carles Alena – Getafe for £4.5m

Francisco Trincao – Wolves on loan

Rey Manaj – Spezia on loan

Juan Miranda – Betis on free transfer

Matheus Fernandes – Palmeiras on free transfer

Monchu – Granada on free transfer

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What has happened at Barcelona this summer?

Griezmann’s departure came two weeks after Barcelona president Joan Laporta revealed the Spanish club is 1.35bn euros (£1.15bn) in debt.

Barcelona’s wage bill in mid-August accounted for 103% of their total income.

It was “financial and structural obstacles” relating to La Liga spending rules which saw record six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi leave Barcelona after agreeing a new deal to stay.

Barca’s all-time top goalscorer went on to join PSG on a free transfer in early August.

Laporta said keeping Messi could have put the club at risk for 50 years.

Griezmann himself scored just 35 goals in 102 games and managed to win only the Copa del Rey in his two seasons with Barca.

The France striker returns to Atletico where he scored 133 goals in 257 games and won the Europa League, Uefa Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup.

Potential Barcelona team after transfer window closed
Barcelona’s possible starting XI, with De Jong replacing Griezmann from their 2-1 win over Getafe on Sunday

The only money Barca spent to bring in a player on a permanent deal during the summer transfer window was to exercise their option to call Emerson back from Betis for a reported 9m euros, only to offload him for a substantial profit.

De Jong, who scored 19 goals in 93 games for Sevilla after moving to La Liga from PSV Eindhoven in the summer of 2019, is the fourth forward to join Barca this summer after compatriot Depay, Aguero and Demir.

Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba agreeing to salary reductions on Tuesday ensured Aguero could be registered and helped “to extend the club’s limit with regards to financial fair play regulations.”

Gerard Pique did the same earlier in the summer to allow Depay and former City defender Eric Garcia to be registered,

Analysis

The most baffling thing for me is that yet again, like they did with Luis Suarez last summer, Barcelona are just strengthening the squad of their opponents for the title.

Griezmann was not happy at Barca, but you are giving one of your direct opponents for the title – and one of the other big clubs in Spain – one of your best players arguably, a fantastic player, and you don’t get anything in exchange.

I don’t know who makes those decisions, but I find them crazy decisions. Incredible.

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