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Barcelona’s 2023/24 transfer spend is the club’s lowest in 18 years

It hasn’t been a quiet transfer window for Barcelona, but it certainly has been a cheap one.

The reigning La Liga champions have brought five new faces to Catalonia but due to their desperate attempts to comply with La Liga’s fierce Financial Fair Play regulations, they have had to be savvy with their spending.

Barcelona have managed to recoup some funds from player sales with the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann leaving, as well as sending a heap of players out on loan and releasing others following the expiration of their contracts.

However, that has not been enough to completely solve Barcelona’s financial issues by any stretch of the imagination, with Xavi having to rely heavily on cost-effective deals to bolster his squad in the market.

As a result, Barcelona have recorded their lowest transfer spend since the 2005/06 season, highlighting just how much the La Liga champions are struggling financially.

Soccer - Joan Gamper Trophy - FC Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich

Mark van Bommel arrived as one of two new signings in 2005 / Christian Liewig – Corbis/GettyImages

Today’s transfer market is practically incomparable to that of 20 years ago, but it does show how tough life is at Barcelona right now for the recruitment team.

Back in the summer of 2005/06, Barcelona signed just two players, both of whom arrived on free transfers. Dutch midfielder Mark van Bommel joined from PSV Eindhoven, while Santiago Ezquerro left Athletic Club.

The lesser-spotted Ezquerro managed just 41 appearances for the Catalans before moving to Osasuna three years later. Van Bommel played only one season with the Spanish side but did generate €6m (£5.2m) in profit by joining Bayern Munich in 2006.

Despite the lack of spending, Frank Rijkaard would guide Barcelona to the La Liga title and Champions League glory, a feat Xavi will be dreaming of emulating this season.

While technically not a new signing, it was the season in which a certain Lionel Messi was permanently moved to the first team. Splashing the cash doesn’t guarantee success, sometimes promoting from within can be just as fruitful.

Ilkay Gundogan

Gundogan arrived from Man City on a free transfer / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Despite their financial woes, Barcelona still managed to sign five players this summer. Admittedly, two of them were on loan with Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo arriving from Atletico Madrid and Manchester City respectively on transfer deadline day.

There have also been two free transfers with midfielder Ilkay Gundogan and centre-back Inigo Martinez joining Barcelona to add some experience and leadership to Xavi’s squad. Both deals were completed early in the window and have proved sensible acquisitions – the kind of smart deals that haven’t always been synonymous with Barcelona in recent transfer windows.

The only other transfer conducted by Barcelona was the low-key addition of Oriol Romeu from Girona. The former La Masia academy product has returned to Catalonia after 12 years away, arriving for a fee of €3.4m (£2.9m).

That accounts for Barcelona’s entire transfer spend for the summer, their lowest total in 18 years. Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration the significant wages that the new arrivals are on at the Spanish champions, but it has been a window of shrewd business from Joan Laporta.

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