According to Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona cannot afford David Alaba this summer due to their financial situation. The Bayern Munich defender only has one year left on his contract, so the Catalans hope he will reject an extension and join them on a free next summer. This would be the only way for the Spanish giants to afford the Austrian, as the pandemic has wreaked havoc on Barca’s already-shaky financial situation.
Given that this report comes from MD, often regarded as the propaganda wing of Josep Maria Bartomeu’s board, we can be relatively certain that the specifics of the story are true. MD’s MO is to always gas up Barca at any given moment — if they’ve suddenly taken a negative tune, this is their board’s way of telling their members “don’t expect any good things in the coming transfer window”. It’s a way of managing expectations.
How did it come to this? Well, Barcelona have been notoriously poorly run over the years, blowing absurd amounts of money on transfer flops like Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, and Antoine Griezmann. Their ageing roster is full of depreciating players on high wages, making it hard for the club to raise money with sales, and animosity between the players and the board makes it difficult to convince the squad to take salary reductions.
Of course, this isn’t to say that Barcelona are broke — they’re still in the Champions League, and their financial muscle is even greater than Bayern’s. However, a player like David Alaba probably isn’t at the top of their priority list at the moment, given that Jordi Alba probably has a few more years left in the tank. They also have Junior Firpo waiting on the wings, and players like Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti at center back. While those are not amazing options, they’re good enough to justify not spending money on Alaba.
Therefore, all reports indicate that the Catalans are trying for Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez instead, as a replacement (or backup) for the declining Luis Suarez. Given Milan’s likely asking price, it explains why the Catalans really might not be able to afford a 30-40 million euro fee for the Austrian at the moment.
What does this mean for Alaba?
Since the beginning, we’ve been told that David Alaba wants to move to Spain this summer, and not the Premier League. While there are clubs in England who can afford him, his preferred destinations are Barcelona and Real Madrid, both of whom are putting high-profile transfers on hold due to the impact of the pandemic. This probably nudges Alaba in the direction of a contract extension, but given that his contract is in its last year, there is a very real chance he could decide to wait it out.
Of course, waiting it out would mean that Alaba is 100% committed to leaving Bayern Munich, which doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment. Reports in the media give the impression that the parties are still negotiating with each other, which indicates the Austrian's desire to stay if the price is right. Hopefully, the two parties agree on a contract extension, and we can put this saga to bed. It would be upsetting to see Alaba leave Bayern in the prime of his career, after all he’s been through with us.