Barcelona have to sell this summer – and Araujo looks most likely to leave

Now Xavi has changed his mind and will be staying on as manager next season, at least there is some degree of certainty amid the usual turbulence at Barcelona.

With the end of the season fast approaching, thoughts have already turned to transfer business.

Barca, as you might not be surprised to hear, will likely see their summer shaped by how successfully they bring themselves in line with La Liga’s salary limit. They certainly need to sell before they buy, and there are only a few players considered untouchable: Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi, Gavi and probably Pedri.

The Athletic last wrote about their financial struggles a few months ago and we will be taking another deep dive on the subject in the coming weeks.

Here, we are looking at the players Barca might seek to move on to help balance the books — because the decision has already been made to do so.

Two months have passed since our first assessment this season on which Barca players might be up for sale this summer, but Ronald Araujo — painfully for some — remains an ideal candidate.

He’s a highly valued player, a dressing-room leader and complements 17-year-old Cubarsi at centre-back — but he also ticks all the boxes Barca are looking for in personnel to move on.

Barcelona paid around €4million (£3.4m; $4.2m at current rates) for Araujo in 2018, signing him for the club’s reserve team from Uruguayan top-flight side Boston River. Transfermarkt now estimates his value at €70m, while the CIES Football Observatory puts it at €80m. That’s a healthy profit.

Then there’s the 25-year-old’s contract, which expires in the summer of 2026.

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Araujo playing for Barca in El Clasico (Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

That deal was agreed in 2022 and Araujo is not among the highest earners at Barca. Talks over fresh terms, with him now one of the team’s captains and a very important player, have started — but Barca are still desperate to keep shortening their wage bill.

Should they offer him that new deal? The squad arguably has the strength in depth to cover his departure. They have Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, Inigo Martinez and Cubarsi as four options for the two spots. To them, you can add Eric Garcia, on loan at Girona, and 19-year-old Senegal international Mika Faye, who is set to be promoted from Barca Atletic, the club’s B team.

None of Barca’s other centre-backs, Cubarsi aside, would attract the same offers as Araujo. Club sources — who, like all those cited in the article, wanted to speak anonymously to protect their positions — expect to get more than €80million for him.

Araujo has always said he is perfectly settled at Barca. Very few of the team’s players want to leave but if you’re at the stage of your career when you deserve a big contract, and you’re more likely to get it elsewhere, that can push you out.

In a perfect world, the club would not be looking to sell Araujo, but their situation is a long way from ideal, and their highest-regarded centre-back may well be sacrificed.

This is another painful case for Barcelona fans. Once hailed as Lionel Messi’s heir, Fati has spent a disastrous season on loan at Brighton where he has failed to make an impact and revive his career. It is very difficult to make a case for him having a role in Xavi’s plans next season.

Barca’s backroom staff lost a big chunk of confidence in Fati last term. Some of them believed he was not showing the capacities expected to thrive in an elite club such as Barcelona — and therefore ended up allowing him to move to the Premier League.

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Fati has made 25 appearances for Brighton this season (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

His time on England’s south coast has done nothing to change that impression, and now he has been moved to the category where Barcelona are open to listen to offers.



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But Fati’s salary is not expected to make things easy for the club. Two seasons ago, he signed an extension until 2027 that was seen as a great accomplishment for Joan Laporta’s board, but his reported wage of €12million per season will make him an expensive asset to move on.

Another loan might be the most likely outcome.

Things have not worked out for him.

Romeu pursued a dream return to his boyhood club last summer, even giving up about €500,000 that would have been due to him in salary and bonuses to ensure his move from Girona went ahead smoothly. Since then, a series of mistakes, injury problems and a loss of confidence have taken their toll.

“I have not shown Xavi he can trust me week in, week out here,” Romeu said in an interview last month.

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Romeu was the subject of interest from Girona in January (Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

“I have struggled with the thought of letting down my team-mates and manager. Next season, I need to enjoy playing football and in summer, I will assess if I see myself capable of doing it here or not.”

Girona tried to re-sign Romeu in January, but Barca’s sporting director Deco did not let him go as their squad was already short of bodies and the most crucial part of the season was about to come. This summer will be a different story. The 32-year-old midfielder is expected to go.

Death, taxes and rumours about Frenkie de Jong leaving Barcelona: life’s certainties have a particular twist in Catalonia.

We are back in a situation familiar from previous transfer windows — and one that can be expected to have a familiar outcome.

At the heart of things is De Jong’s contract, which also runs until 2026.

According to Catalan media outlet TV3, Barcelona are paying him more than €20million a year — a figure that takes into account salary deferrals he agreed in 2021 to help ease the club’s financial problems.

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De Jong joined Barcelona in the summer of 2019 from Ajax (Mateo Villalba/Getty Images)

That’s what makes his case different from Araujo’s situation. Unlike the Uruguayan, De Jong might not be in a rush to find a better contract elsewhere.

De Jong’s talent is appreciated, but some voices at Barcelona think the team would benefit from a different profile in his position. A new holding midfielder, who could play as a sole anchor and take over Sergio Busquets’ role, is what they crave.

For his part, De Jong clearly has no intention of leaving.

“You are talking about my contract, but there is a lot of smoke and lies that are very far from reality,” the Dutchman said in a February press conference. “I am very happy at Barca, it is the club of my dreams. I hope to continue here for many years.”

Like De Jong, Lewandowski has not matched the lofty expectations Barca and the club’s coaching staff had set for him.

A big reason behind his signing was the commercial value he would add as a so-called ‘franchise player’, as well as the idea of him acting as an experienced role model for a young squad.

But almost two years on from his €50million move from Bayern Munich, Lewandowski is not considered an untouchable member of the Barcelona squad. Xavi has subbed him on five occasions when Barca have not been in a winning position.

Lewandowski has scored 16 La Liga goals this season — 23 in all competitions — and registered eight assists. With four league games still to play, his numbers are slightly below the previous campaign, when he registered 33 goals and eight assists in all competitions and was La Liga’s top scorer, with 23 goals.

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Lewandowski’s hat-trick against Valencia took him to 16 goals in La Liga (Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

However, coaching staff sources say they have been frustrated all season over Lewandowski’s struggles in duels with defenders, his link-up play, and him not being clinical enough.

From next season, he will be earning a salary of €16million a year after taxes, according to Spanish media outlet Cadena SER. His departure would represent a significant saving for a club that needs to make them.

For his part, Lewandowski has no intention of leaving. Sources close to the player describe how happy and settled he is. His contract probably has another two years to run — if he plays more than 50 per cent of Barca’s games next term it will be automatically extended to the summer of 2026.

Another point in his favour is the lack of strength in depth up front. Barcelona cannot look to Ferran Torres or Vitor Roque to step up in his place, and it would be impossible to finance a big-money move for a striker of similar quality.

Barca have already made up their mind on the French centre-back. He’s a player they didn’t count on last season, and he is not in their thinking for the next campaign, either.

His situation is similar to that of Fati in another aspect — his salary.

Barcelona have been paying some of his wages during the 28-year-old’s loan spell at Aston Villa this term (where he has made 23 appearances). Lenglet still has two years left on his contract in Spain.

Last summer, a possible permanent switch to Saudi Arabia was discussed, but nothing materialised. That might be on the table this summer — but so will be the option of another loan away from his parent club.

Eric Garcia

After a successful spell at Girona this season, ex-Manchester City player Garcia will return to Barca this summer — but that does not mean he will stay.

The 23-year-old is expected to have a meeting with Xavi to know more about the club’s plans for him before shaping his own thinking. The manager wanted him to stay last summer, but Barca were willing to listen to offers and eventually let him go out on loan.



Eric Garcia interview: ‘I had doubts over my role at Barca. I needed to prove myself at Girona’

If a suitable offer arrives on the table, Barca would likely be open to a sale as Garcia is now arguably at his highest market value in the past three seasons.

Girona would like Garcia to stay, but they might struggle to offer the kind of money Barca would be looking for, while also matching his wages at Barca. With his contract to expire in 2026, his future remains wide open.

The anterior cruciate ligament injury the United States international suffered during training at PSV Eindhoven is a massive blow to Barcelona’s plan with him.

Dest had shown his best level in years during his loan at the Dutch club this term, featuring in 37 games and registering two goals and seven assists. His contract at Barca expires in the summer of 2025 and the Catalans were hoping to agree a permanent sale with PSV. He has been ruled out for up to nine months.

The most likely scenario points to Barcelona having to keep him for the rest of his contract. The 23-year-old will be free to start negotiations with any club from next January.

Vitor Roque

It has not been an easy start for Barcelona’s latest signing. The 19-year-old striker arrived at the club in January from Athletico Paranaense in a deal worth €30million plus a further €31m in potential add-ons. He landed as one of Brazil’s biggest prospects, but his impact on the pitch has not been major.

These first months have been more focused on helping Roque adjust to life at Barca, rather than making the difference straight away — but now there’s a belief he’ll need more game time to get up to the levels Barca require.

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Roque’s move to Barcelona was brought forward to January (Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Barca plan to loan him out to another club where he can get a better opportunity next season but the player’s camp say he would prefer to stay and fight for his place, so further discussions are expected.

Inigo Martinez

You might think Martinez should not be at risk. Since joining on a free transfer last summer, he has settled well and is a vocal and appreciated figure in the dressing room, despite his more limited role.

Well, his place is not safe.

Barcelona struggled to register Martinez with La Liga last season because of their difficulties in meeting salary spending rules. In the end, his registration was only completed for one season — despite him joining on a two-year deal.

As Barca are likely to have to navigate salary limit difficulties again this summer, Martinez’s situation could get complicated, and he could be on the departure list.

Others – including Raphinha

Raphinha is seen at the club as a player who could attract interest — especially after his latest run of form. Last summer, when reports about Ousmane Dembele’s departure emerged, club sources told The Athletic that Xavi’s coaching staff would be happier sanctioning a sale of Raphinha instead. Unfortunately for them, Barca had no choice then.



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But Barca spent £55million on the Brazilian winger, and it is far from certain that a bid would come in to allow them to make a profit. Raphinha, under contract until 2027, is determined to stay.

Jules Kounde’s situation is similar. Barca spent a big fee on him, and he would like to stay. Plus, Araujo’s potential departure would see Kounde become more important. Ferran Torres is another — and recent form provides nothing to suggest Barca should expect any big offers in any case.

There are two players who do have their futures pretty much defined, however. Marcos Alonso is expected to leave the club when his contract ends in June. Sergi Roberto is also out of contract this summer, but Barca have offered him an extension for another season and Xavi wants him to be a part of his squad.

(Top photo: Getty Images)

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