Barcelona can’t register nine of their 25 first-team players — here’s the state of play

Last August saw a number of players moved out against their wishes during the final days of the window. AFP
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Updated 12 June 2024
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Barcelona can’t register nine of their 25 first-team players — here’s the state of play

  • The Athletic reported last month that Barcelona must find about 130 million before June 30 or it will be very difficult to add new players to their squad due to how they overshot La Liga's salary limit during 2023-24
  • The club has been looking to find new investors for their troubled Barca Studios lever and to renegotiate and/or extend their deal with kit supplier Nike

Recent summers have brought plenty of drama at Barcelona as president Joan Laporta and his directors have looked to build competitive squads despite serious and ongoing financial problems.
That has often meant wheeling and dealing right down to the final day of the transfer window. Barcelona's board has found increasingly inventive ways to work within La Liga's salary limit regulations, including the famous levers of summer 2022 and 2023.
Last August saw a number of players moved out against their wishes during the final days of the window before Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo arrived on loan just before the deadline. Board members gave personal guarantees worth 18.5million to La Liga.
This year is sure to bring more such maneuvering. The Athletic reported last month that Barcelona must find about 130 million before June 30 or it will be very difficult to add new players to their squad due to how they overshot La Liga's salary limit during 2023-24.
This week, Barcelona sources, who, like all of those spoken to for this article asked to be kept anonymous to protect relationships, told The Athletic there was confidence that a solution to their need for 130m would be found by the end of the month. The club has been looking to find new investors for their troubled Barca Studios lever and to renegotiate and/or extend their deal with kit supplier Nike.
But no concrete details have yet been shared with La Liga and cashing in on squad assets such as Ronald Araujo, Frenkie de Jong or Raphinha cannot be ruled out. Especially as Laporta said this week: "We'd like to strengthen in holding midfield and add an out-and-out winger."
Meanwhile, as things stand, nine of the 25 players who started games for Barcelona in La Liga during 2023-24 currently cannot be registered for next season.
Sergi Roberto and Marcos Alonso are out of contract on June 30, when the loan deals for Felix and Cancelo also expire. That date also sees Inigo Martinez and Vitor Roque become unregistered with La Liga due to the unorthodox ways both were levered onto the squad list for last season.
Senior deals for La Masia products Alejandro Balde, Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi, and Hector Fort all still have to be formally accepted by La Liga. A legal battle with the league over the status of another homegrown youngster Gavi is also yet to be concluded.
Making it even more difficult to find space within the salary budget to add new names is that players returning from loans are all automatically registered for 2024-25. This means the hefty salaries of Ansu Fati, Eric Garcia, Sergino Dest, and Clement Lenglet are all currently being counted by La Liga for next season even if none of those players figure in the club's long-term plans.
Laporta and Barcelona sporting director Deco now have a series of difficult cases to resolve. It will clearly be quite a while before new head coach Hansi Flick's squad for next season is finalized. A source close to a player whose future is uncertain said: "It's going to be a very long summer."
Barcelona's current club captain renewed on a lower salary last summer. He then played 24 games during an injury-hampered campaign, scoring three goals and providing three assists.
Another 12-month extension was expected had his former team-mate Xavi continued as head coach, however nothing has been signed. Laporta is said to value the Catalan-born La Masia graduates representation of the club's values. Whether that contribution is considered valuable enough to offer him a new contract remains to be seen.
Marcos Alonso was always a strange signing and played just 389 minutes in all competitions last season.
A back issue has not helped, but even when fit the former Chelsea defender was well down the pecking order. The 33-year-old has surely played his last game for Barcelona.
Vitor Roque was meant to join Barcelona from Athletico Paranaense this coming summer for an initial 30 million plus a potential further 31 million in add-ons.
The Brazilian starlet was initially registered with La Liga in January as an emergency short-term signing to cover Gavis's injury. So the salary he was paid while mostly sitting on the bench for the last six months must now be subtracted from Barcelonas total available for the coming season.
Had Xavi continued as coach, a loan move for next season was being considered. His agent Andre Cury told Catalan radio in early May that we dont want a loan if he has to go, it will be a permanent sale. Laporta suggested this week the 19-year-old would be in Flick's squad next season.
Martinez signed a two-year deal when he joined Barcelona on a free transfer from Athletic Bilbao last summer. However, that contract was registered with La Liga for just one year to ensure he could be added to the official squad last August.
Xavi was a fan of the Basque's technical qualities and he played 25 games for Barcelona last season, despite some injury absences.
The 33-year-old is keen to continue at Barca. His future may not be decided until later in the window and depends on what happens with other players, particularly Araujo and Garcia.
We want the Joaos to continue and were working on them continuing another season, Laporta said this week. Flick considers them top-quality players and is counting on both.
This is despite both having had underwhelming 2023-24 campaigns. Cancelo made big mistakes in crucial moments and Xavi often left Joao Felix on the bench for big games.
Both are unwanted at their parent clubs, due to difficult relationships with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone.
The close relationship between Laporta and Jorge Mendes, who represents both players, looks just as important for their futures. Mendes also represents various other squad members — including Fati, Yamal, and Balde.
A quirk of Felix's arrival late last August was that Barcelona originally wanted to register him on a very low salary, but Tebas later confirmed that La Liga gave him a market value of 10 million under regulations designed to stop clubs from bending rules or underpaying players.
Center-back Garcia thrived on loan at Girona last season, being a key part of the Catalan side's surprise Champions League qualification.
That loan deal did not contain an option for a permanent transfer and Garcia has two more years on the contract agreed when he returned from Manchester City in July 2021.
"This summer I'll go back to Barcelona and we'll see what the club's plan is for me," he told The Athletic in March.
The 23-year-old also spoke in that interview about confusion at Barcelona in the final days of last summer's transfer window. Xavi said he was counting on him for the season, but the club hierarchy wanted to loan him out to make room in the salary limit to sign other players instead.
Fati was another who did not initially want to leave Barcelona on loan last summer. His experiences on loan were less fruitful than Garcia's.
The 21-year-old scored four goals in 30 games for Brighton but never really convinced Roberto De Zerbi that he was prepared for the demands of the Premier League. The Premier League clubs social media goodbye made clear they did not expect to be seeing him again any time soon.
A post shared by Brighton Hove Albion FC (@officialbhafc)
"It was a pleasure to play for Brighton, but now I'm back with my club and my family," Fati told Mundo Deportivo this week. "My dream remains to play for Barca."
Fati remains popular with many Barcelona fans and it is not long since he was seen as Lionel Messi's long-term successor in the number 10 jersey. However, the club's directors now realize the 10 million-plus annual salary agreed before injuries seriously affected his development is now a big problem.
US international right-back Sergino Dest spent last year on loan at PSV Eindhoven, having never really settled at Barcelona since joining for 21 million from Ajax in the summer of 2020.
Dest had an excellent season at PSV, contributing two goals and seven assists in 37 games before suffering a serious knee injury in April. This will see the 23-year-old miss the USMNT's Copa America campaign this summer.
The Dutch club has an option for a permanent transfer this summer and may now be able to drive a hard bargain. Barcelona will not want an injured player taking up space on their wage bill, especially one whose contract with them ends in June 2025.
Lenglet has not played for Barcelona since May 2022 after spending the last two seasons on loan at Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa.
The former France international, who turns 29 on June 17, still has two more years on the bumper contract agreed when he joined Barcelona from Sevilla in 2018, during Josep Maria Bartomeus's free-spending years as president.
That 16 million salary (inc tax) complicates matters. Barcelona was paying a significant chunk even while he was at Tottenham and Villa. A move to Saudi Arabia would resolve the problem for Barcelona, but the player himself appears keen to continue his career in Europe.
Gavis's long-term contract situation remains in a type of legal limbo.
Having emerged into Barca's first team aged 17, still on his youth team deal and wearing No 30, Gavi signed a first senior contract in September 2022 with a 1 billion release clause.
When La Liga said there was no room for that contract within that season's squad salary limit, Barcelona took a case to the Spanish courts and achieved a temporary injunction to ensure the player was not free to sign for another club last summer.
While waiting for Barcelonas Juzgado Mercantil (Commercial Court) No 10 to resolve the case, Gavi was registered with La Liga for 2023-24. He wore No. 6 for the first months of the season, until suffering a serious knee injury on Spain duty in November, and is still mid-way through a long recovery process.
Until the Barcelona court offers a final judgment on the legal case, doubts will remain over his long-term future.
Home-produced left-back Alejandro Balde signed a senior contract with Barcelona in September 2023 that tied him to the club until June 2028 with a 1 billion release clause.
However, Barcelona did not have space to formally register that contract with La Liga and still do not.
The 20-year-old's ability and potential mean he would be among the priority players to register first — assuming they make space this summer.
Teenagers Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi, and Hector Fort played big roles for the first team through the second half of 2023-24 and have all agreed to new contracts befitting their status as emerging stars of interest to richer clubs across Europe.
Yamal signed his first professional contract in October 2023, which lasts until 2026 and also includes the 1 billion release clause. Barcelona sources have told The Athletic that a longer extension is already agreed for when he turns 18 in July 2025.
Cubarsi recently agreed on a new deal that ties him to the club until June 2027. That was seen as vital as his academy contract includes a 10 million release clause and the player named in Spain's provisional Euro 2024 squad has a current market value already many multiples of that figure.

Recent weeks also saw full-back Fort, still 17, renew his contract, although only up until June 2026.
Given all the pressures on the salary limit and the uncertainty of the Gavi legal case, Barcelona is relying on these home-produced kids showing loyalty and ignoring potentially huge offers from elsewhere.
Formally registering them all as senior as senior players with La Liga would bring the protection of their huge release clauses and sighs of relief throughout the Barcelona family.


Esports World Cup: Stage set for sensational Sunday in Riyadh

Updated 14 sec ago
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Esports World Cup: Stage set for sensational Sunday in Riyadh

RIYADH: Gaming fans and esports enthusiasts are gearing up for a sensational Sunday of action-packed drama at the Esports World Cup with two new champions set to be crowned at Boulevard Riyadh City.

After delighting audiences ever since the Esports World Cup began, the Dota2 Riyadh Masters concludes at the SEF Arena with Saudi Arabia’s Team Falcons among the last three clubs vying to win the $5 million tournament.

After overcoming Tundra 2-0 in Saturday’s lower bracket semi-final, the hometown heroes face the Netherlands’ Team Liquid in the lower bracket final on Sunday afternoon. The victor will progress to the Grand Final, where they will meet Canada’s Gaimin Gladiators later on Sunday evening for glory and the $1.5 million first prize.

Also sharing the Esports World Cup spotlight is the Counter-Stike 2 Grand Final. Germany’s G2 booked their place in Sunday’s showpiece — overcoming Russian outfit Virtus.pro to move within one match of the $400,000 first prize and valuable Esports World Cup Club Championship points. Awaiting them in the Grand Final is NAVI of Ukraine — who set up a highly anticipated showdown with G2 after defeating MOUZ of Germany.

The Sunday action in Riyadh concludes Week 3 of the Esports World Cup. Alongside the Dota2 Riyadh Masters and CS2 grand finals, fans can also catch PUBG Mobile World Cup 2024 group stage matches.

For more information on scheduling and results, visit the Esports World Cup website.

 


Paris ramps up security in preparation for the Olympics

Updated 38 min 13 sec ago
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Paris ramps up security in preparation for the Olympics

  • Squadrons of police are patrolling Paris streets and fighter jets and soldiers are ready to scramble. An imposing metal-fenced security cordon has been erected like an iron curtain on both sides of th
  • The city has repeatedly suffered bloody extremist attacks and international tensions are high because of the wars in Ukraine and Gaza

PARIS: A year ago, the head of the Paris Olympics boldly declared that France’s capital would be ” the safest place in the world ” when the Games open this Friday. Tony Estanguet’s confident forecast looks less far-fetched now with squadrons of police patrolling Paris’ streets, fighter jets and soldiers primed to scramble, and imposing metal-fence security barriers erected like an iron curtain on both sides of the River Seine that will star in the opening show.
France’s vast police and military operation is in large part because the July 26-Aug. 11 Games face unprecedented security challenges. The city has repeatedly suffered deadly extremist attacks and international tensions are high because of the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.
Rather than build an Olympic park with venues grouped together outside of the city center, like Rio de Janeiro in 2016 or London in 2012, Paris has chosen to host many of the events in the heart of the bustling capital of 2 million inhabitants, with others dotted around suburbs that house millions more. Putting temporary sports arenas in public spaces and the unprecedented choice to stage a river-borne opening ceremony stretching for kilometers (miles) along the Seine, makes safeguarding them more complex.
Olympic organizers also have cyberattack concerns, while rights campaigners and Games critics are worried about Paris’ use of AI-equipped surveillance technology and the broad scope and scale of Olympic security.
Paris, in short, has a lot riding on keeping 10,500 athletes and millions of visitors safe. Here’s how it aims to do it.
The security operation, by the numbers

A Games-time force of up to 45,000 police and gendarmes is also backed up by a 10,000-strong contingent of soldiers that has set up the largest military camp in Paris since World War II, from which soldiers should be able to reach any of the city’s Olympic venues within 30 minutes.
Armed military patrols aboard vehicles and on foot have become common in crowded places in France since gunmen and suicide bombers acting in the names of Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group repeatedly struck Paris in 2015. They don’t have police powers of arrest but can tackle attackers and restrain them until police arrive. For visitors from countries where armed street patrols aren’t the norm, the sight of soldiers with assault rifles might be jarring, just as it was initially for people in France.
“At the beginning, it was very strange for them to see us and they were always avoiding our presence, making a detour,” said Gen. Éric Chasboeuf, deputy commander of the counter-terror military force, called Sentinelle.
“Now, it’s in the landscape,” he said.
Rafale fighter jets, airspace-monitoring AWACS surveillance flights, Reaper surveillance drones, helicopters that can carry sharpshooters, and equipment to disable drones will police Paris skies, which will be closed during the opening ceremony by a no-fly zone extending for 150 kilometers (93 miles) around the capital. Cameras twinned with artificial intelligence software — authorized by a law that expands the state’s surveillance powers for the Games — will flag potential security risks, such as abandoned packages or crowd surges,
France is also getting help from more than 40 countries that, together, have sent at least 1,900 police reinforcements.
Trump assassination attempt highlights Olympic risks
Attacks by lone individuals are major concern, a risk driven home most recently to French officials by the assassination attempt against Donald Trump.
Some involved in the Olympic security operation were stunned that the gunman armed with an AR-style rifle got within range of the former US president.
“No one can guarantee that there won’t be mistakes. There, however, it was quite glaring,” said Gen. Philippe Pourqué, who oversaw the construction of a temporary camp in southeast Paris housing 4,500 soldiers from the Sentinelle force.
In France, in the last 13 months alone, men acting alone have carried out knife attacks that targeted tourists in Paris, and children in a park in an Alpine town, among others. A man who stabbed a teacher to death at his former high school in northern France in October had been under surveillance by French security services. 
With long and bitter experience of deadly extremist attacks, France has armed itself with a dense network of police units, intelligence services and investigators who specialize in fighting terrorism, and suspects in terrorism cases can be held longer for questioning.
Hundreds of thousands of background checks have scrutinized Olympic ticket-holders, workers and others involved in the Games and applicants for passes to enter Paris’ most tightly controlled security zone, along the Seine’s banks. The checks blocked more than 3,900 people from attending, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said. He said some were flagged for suspected Islamic radicalization, left- or right-wing political extremism, significant criminal records and other security concerns.
“We’re particularly attentive to Russian and Belorussian citizens,” Darmanin added, although he stopped short of linking exclusions to Russia’s war in Ukraine and Belarus’ role as an ally of Moscow.
Darmanin said 155 people considered to be “very dangerous” potential terror threats are also being kept away from the opening ceremony and the Games, with police searching their homes for weapons and computers in some cases.
He said intelligence services haven’t identified any proven terror plots against the Games “but we are being extremely attentive.”
Critics fear intrusive Olympic security will stay after the Games
Campaigners for digital rights worry that Olympic surveillance cameras and AI systems could erode privacy and other freedoms, and zero in on people without fixed homes who spend a lot of time in public spaces.
Saccage 2024, a group that has campaigned for months against the Paris Games, took aim at the scope of the Olympic security, describing it as a “repressive arsenal” in a statement to The Associated Press.
“And this is not a French exception, far from it, but a systematic occurrence in host countries,” it said. “Is it reasonable to offer one month of ‘festivities’ to the most well-off tourists at the cost of a long-term securitization legacy for all residents of the city and the country?“


Rianne Malixi of the Philippines wins US Girls’ Junior, routing Asterisk Talley 8 and 7

Updated 21 July 2024
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Rianne Malixi of the Philippines wins US Girls’ Junior, routing Asterisk Talley 8 and 7

  • The 17-year-old Malixi won five straight holes to take a 7-up lead after 14, was 6 up after 18 and ended it with a par win on the 29th hole
  • Malixi has verbally committed to play at Duke, starting in 2025

TARZANA: Rianne Malixi of the Philippines won the 75th US Girls’ Junior a year after falling in the final, routing Asterisk Talley 8 and 7 in the 36-hole championship match at El Caballero Country Club.

The 17-year-old Malixi won five straight holes to take a 7-up lead after 14, was 6 up after 18 and ended it with a par win on the 29th hole.

Last year in the final, Kiara Romero beat Malixi 1 up at the US Air Force Academy’s Eisenhower Golf Course in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Malixi has verbally committed to play at Duke, starting in 2025.

The 15-year-old Talley, from Chowchilla, California, teamed with Sarah Lim to win the US Women’s Amateur Four-Ball in May in San Antonio.


Pogacar on brink of third Tour de France triumph ahead of Riviera finale

Updated 21 July 2024
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Pogacar on brink of third Tour de France triumph ahead of Riviera finale

  • Having won five stages, Pogacar enjoys a healthy five-minute 14-second lead over Jonas Vingegaard, winner of the past two editions
  • Pogacar on brink of third Tour de France triumph ahead of Riviera finaleBarring a major incident it will be his third Tour win, completing a Tour-Giro d’Italia double not achieved since 1998

NICE: Tadej Pogacar will be firmly in the spotlight as he goes down the ramp last on Sunday’s final day individual time trial in his adopted home of Monaco, with a third Tour de France title all but secured.

The final stage of the 2024 Tour will be broadcast around the world as he speeds along the corniche from Monaco to Riviera town Nice.

“I can ride home from there and sleep,” Pogacar said earlier in the Tour.

Having won five stages, Pogacar enjoys a healthy five-minute 14-second lead over Jonas Vingegaard, winner of the past two editions.

Barring a major incident it will be his third Tour win, completing a Tour-Giro d’Italia double not achieved since 1998.

It will also provide him the platform for potential Olympic glory in two weeks and at the world championships which follow soon after.

The 25-year-old, runner-up to Vingegaard on the last two Tours, took the lead on day four, attacking his key rival downhill as the race entered France via the Alps.

Other stars emerged along the way, as Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay won three stages, the sprint points green jersey and national hero status in his homeland.

He narrowly beat the 2023 sprint king Jasper Philipsen, who won three stages but never had the lead in the points race.

Belgian newcomer Remco Evenepoel is set to win the best young rider’s white jersey, also winning the first individual time trial and looks good for a spot on the podium going into the final day in third.

The 24-year-old Evenepoel trails second-placed Vingegaard by 2min 50sec, but is expected to win the final day’s individual run.

“He’s the best time-triallist in the world,” Vingegaard said Saturday.

Olympic champion Richard Carapaz is being hailed as the most combative rider on the 2024 Tour.

The Ecuadorian EF rider won a stage, took the yellow jersey for a day and came close to other victories. He raced on Saturday in the polka dot best climber’s jersey.

Another Belgian won hearts, as the tough Victor Campenaerts rung one up for dads everywhere.

After winning a three-way battle to close out stage 18 he grabbed a phone for a video call with his partner, who immediately showed him their newborn baby, Gustaaf, with dad in tears.

“You have no idea how much this means,” he said, though nobody asked if he was referring to the stage win.

The French did well too, grabbing the opening day win with Kevin Vauquelin and calming nerves from home fans.

Retiring Romain Bardet, twice a podium finisher, should be well received in Nice after a fine Tour. He took the yellow jersey, albeit for a day.

Mark Cavendish also grabbed the headlines, claiming a record 35th stage win.
 


India’s Paes, Amritraj make history joining Tennis Hall of Fame

Updated 21 July 2024
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India’s Paes, Amritraj make history joining Tennis Hall of Fame

  • The first inductees from India were joined by British tennis journalist and author Richard Evans in enshrinement ceremonies
  • Vijay Amritraj : I am humbled and honored to join this incredible and exclusive group that have brought glory to our sport
  • Paes recounted his youth playing football and hockey before turning to tennis and eventually following his hockey-captain father as an Olympic medalist

NEW YORK: Former doubles world No. 1 Leander Paes and tennis broadcaster, actor and player Vijay Amritraj became the first Asian men inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday.

The first inductees from India were joined by British tennis journalist and author Richard Evans in enshrinement ceremonies at the Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.

Paes recounted his youth playing football and hockey before turning to tennis and eventually following his hockey-captain father as an Olympic medalist.

“It’s my greatest honor to be on this stage with not only these legends of the game, people who have inspired me every single day of my life — not because you’ve only won Grand Slams, not because you’ve shaped our sport but every single one of these people have shaped the world we live in,” Paes said.

“I would like to thank you so much for giving this Indian boy hope.”

Amritraj, 70, played from 1970 until retiring in 1993, winning 15 ATP singles titles and 399 matches and being ranked as high as 18th in the world and helped India to the Davis Cup finals in 1974 and 1987.

“I am humbled and honored to join this incredible and exclusive group that have brought glory to our sport,” Amritraj said.

After his playing days, Amritraj has helped humanitarian causes, backed ATP and WTA events in India and has acted in the James Bond and Star Trek movie series.

“A feeling came over me that I had never experienced,” Amritraj said of learning about his election to the Hall. “This was an honor not just for me, for my family, for my parents, but for all of my fellow Indians and my country who live around the world.”

Like Amritraj, Evans was inducted in the contributor category for his life impact on the sport.

Paes, 51, was an 18-time Grand Slam champion in doubles and mixed doubles who was selected in the player category after honing his trade in an Amritraj youth academy.

Paes and Amritraj made India the 28th nation represented in the Hall of Fame.

“Playing for 1.4 billion people could either be pressure or it could be wind within your wings,” Paes said.

“I’d like to thank every single one of my countrymen who supported me, who stood by through all the ups and downs, and we’ve been through a few, but you all were the inspiration, the support, you were even the strength to guide me through when even I didn’t believe.”

Paes won career Grand Slams in both men’s and mixed doubles, completing one in men’s by winning the 2012 Australian Open and another in mixed by capturing the 2016 French Open.

He won the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bronze medal by defeating Brazil’s Fernando Meligeni 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

His only ATP singles title came in 1998 on Newport grass in the same venue where he was inducted.

“As my father always said to me, if you believe in yourself, you work hard, you’ll be passionate not only to win prize money and trophies, but you do that to inspire the world,” Paes said.

“It has been my greatest honor to play for my countrymen in seven Olympics, to stand where the national anthem is playing in all those Davis Cups, and to prove that we Asians can win Grand Slams and also be No. 1 in our field, be it tennis or anything.”