Manchester City may be firing on all cylinders but they’re about to lose a part of their firepower in Ferran Torres.
Torres is set to join Barcelona in the January transfer window after the two clubs agreed a deal – despite the Spanish giants’ crippling debt.
So how has the impending move come about – especially in light of Barca’s messy finances? Sportsmail takes a look…
Manchester City forward Ferran Torres is close to completing a move to Barcelona in January
What has been agreed?
In principal, a transfer fee that should rise beyond £55million, making Torres the most expensive player sold in Manchester City’s history – just eclipsing Leroy Sane’s departure to Bayern Munich.
As detailed by Sportsmail, the two clubs finalised the terms on Wednesday after weeks of negotiations. Barcelona chief executive Ferran Reverter and director of football Mateu Alemany visited City’s training base in November as they attempted to thrash out the relevant fees.
The transfer starts with a guaranteed payment of £46.7million, with further additional clauses amounting to more than £8m.
City believe that £6m of those will be triggered almost immediately, while they will bank up to £8.5m if Torres is sold by Barca in the future.
An initial fee of £46.7million has been agreed which could later rise to £55m for the forward
How can it be afforded?
A very good question considering mindboggling Barcelona’s £849m debt.
Barcelona’s financial woes are well documented but it’s achievable thanks to a £508m (yes, you read that correctly) loan they have secured from Goldman Sachs. This gargantuan fee is to be paid off over 35 years, with a five-year grace period too to help restructure their finances.
As outlined by Spanish journalist Alvaro Montero too, Barcelona reportedly have some cash reserves to help fund this deal – although clearly not enough without the loan from Goldman Sachs.
Montero also states that the structuring of the installments to City may be over a longer period of time. For example, rather than paying one big fee straight away with smaller installments later; Montero believes that City could be quite generous and allow Barca to pay smaller installments over a larger timeframe.
Barca president Joan Laporta has agreed a £508m loan with Goldman Sachs to aid their debt
So can Torres play for Barcelona straight away?
No, not unless the club lowers its own costs, due to LaLiga’s financial rules. As things stand the club are still outside of the Spanish league’s spending limits and are therefore subject to the 1:4 ratio – if they want to bring in a player on a €4m (£3.4m) salary, someone on €16m (£13.8m) needs to leave, for example.
Torres’ former City team-mate Sergio Aguero, who has since retired, couldn’t register with the Catalan giants this summer until the likes of Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets agreed to taking a pay cut.
The Barcelona board are going to have negotiate more pay cuts if they wish to see Torres on the pitch in 2022. Aguero reportedly agreeing to forego the second year of his contract and only collecting part of his wage for the remainder of this season is a start.
Sergio Aguero has forgone the second year of his Barca deal after retiring from football
What else can help with the financial structure?
Selling. That’s the most obvious thing and newly-appointed manager Xavi has made it clear with who he wants gone to aid his rebuild.
Philippe Coutinho remains Barcelona’s record-signing but the £145m-man has proven a relative flop at the Nou Camp. He was an unused substitute during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Sevilla with Xavi preferring youth instead – highlighting his placing among the squad.
Samuel Umtiti is another player deemed surplus to requirements, as is back-up goalkeeper Neto.
Samuel Umtiti (left) and Philippe Coutinho are both available for sale at the Nou Camp
Ousmane Dembele is out of contract at the end of the season so he could be one player they look to offload in January – although it would hinder their chances of a top-four finish in LaLiga. They paid Borussia Dortmund an initial £96.8m for him in 2017 – with the deal reaching as high as £135.5m if all the clauses were met, which they are not – meaning that would be a financial disaster if he left on a free transfer.
Alternatively, they could look to keep Dembele by signing him to a new deal as soon as possible and restructuing his contract that would allow them to sign Torres too. This would also work two-fold as it would enable them to continue paying off the large fee owed to Borussia Dortmund over a longer period of time.
Despite his poor injury record, Dembele won’t be short of suitors so it may be hard for Barcelona to achieve the latter though.
Sergi Roberto is another player with an expiring contract who might negotiate a new deal that minimises what he is owed in the short term.
Barca have a dilemma on their hands with Ousmane Dembele out of contact in the summer
Why are Barcelona so keen on Torres?
Simply put, Xavi doesn’t have a centre-forward he can rely on and this hole is glaringly obvious.
As reported by Mundo Deportivo earlier this week, Torres is of particular interest to Xavi because he wants a forward who ‘opens up the pitch, is fast and a good finisher’ – all attributes that the City man has.
Against Sevilla they had numerous chances to win the match but squandered them all.
Barcelona boss Xavi is desperate to sign a striker in the upcoming January transfer window
They peppered the hosts’ goal with shots and crosses in the first half and played most of the second with an extra man after Jules Kounde had been sent off, but they could not get a winner.
With Ansu Fati injured and Sergio Aguero having retired, they are left with a mix players who are out-of-form and out-of-position in Xavi’s desired 4-3-3 formation.
On Wednesday it was Dembele, Ferran Jutgla and Abde Ezzalzouli leading their frontline. When Jutgla went off, Gavi – who had been playing as one of the three central midfielders – initially went up front. Luuk de Jong, who is a centre-forward, didn’t come on until the 85th minute – highlighting Xavi’s view on his current central-striker options.
‘It’s a bittersweet sensation,’ Xavi said post-match, via Marca , after their 1-1 draw in Seville. ‘I think we performed well, but obviously we have to improve.
‘We’ve earned a point, but we have to be patient. It’s a shame because we had them.
‘It’s difficult to take, not winning. It’s going to be hard for me to sleep. I think we should have won.’
Ferran Jutgla started up front for Barca during Tuesday night’s 1-1 LaLiga draw at Sevilla
Why is Torres swapping stuttering Barca for juggernaut City?
To be the main man. At City, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez have all spent some time as a central striker this season. Youngster Cole Palmer was also utilised in that position in the Carabao Cup defeat at West Ham.
At Barcelona, this would be different. He could expect to play as the centre-forward and even dovetail out wide at times with the likes of Memphis Depay taking the No 9 role too.
Pep Guardiola has remained steadfast in maintaining that any City player can seek pastures new if they are unhappy and present an acceptable offer from another club.
Torres, who has scored nine Premier League goals in 19 starts, thought he deserved more chances and didn’t believe the manager’s public praise of his performances were matched with regular opportunities.
He has not played since October after suffering a foot injury on international duty with Spain and a return to his homeland would allow national manager Luis Enrique to see him up close and personal ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Pep Guardiola has remained steadfast in maintaining any City player can seek pastures new
A return to his homeland would allow Torres to cement a starting berth in the Spain national XI