The amount of debt has become an election issue as Sandro Rosell, one of the presidential candidates, is campaigning on a platform of financial austerity and in a recent interview drew attention to Barca's reported €489 million deficit.
He has said that the transfers of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Dmytro Chrygrynskiy, and now David Villa have added substantial debt to already stratospheric levels. Rosell cautioned that Barca should improve its squad but it should also spend prudently in order to ensure survival.
Interestingly, after that AS.com article, Arsenal dug in its heels and said Cesc would be off limits despite the player stating privately to Wenger that he wanted to leave. Barca responded by asking Cesc to go public with his wish to return to Barca. Now, Arsenal reports he can leave and set the price tag at €92 million for his freedom which appears to be about €50 million more than Barca's best offer.
Laporta is in a hurry to wrap up the Cesc deal before the June 13th electoral vote and before the World Cup starts. Consider this his legacy move as he is not in the running for president. But the price has to be right.
" We are not going to pay more than we think is normal and logical,' said Laporta. 'You have to take into account what he has won and the needs of both clubs. There are various ways of coming to the right price for a player who was raised by Barcelona."
The unseemly haste is at odds with what Laporta had to say about transfers a week ago:
"We do not want to close transfer deals in a hurry, we just try to fulfil the demands of the technical staff. But a transfer can become more expensive when there are interferences from people who want to claim that transfer."
At this stage there is a lot of gamesmanship going on between Laporta and Rosell which accounts for the shifting narrative. Rosell's claim to fame was the man behind bringing Ronaldinho to Barca for €32 million. So he knows a thing or two about expensive transfers. He was also a former adviser and running mate of Laporta.
That was before they fell out over a tell all book that Rosell wrote after his resignation which was critical of the present Barca president. Since the 2006 presidential elections, Rosell has become Laporta's chief critic accusing him of being "undemocratic" and claiming that there is "absolute anarchy" at how things are run in the club.
The price tag has become a problem. Barcelona so far has largely escaped Real Madrid's image of the giant vampire squid in the transfer market. But that could change if this deal goes through.
To pre-empt Arsenal's negotiating power, Laporta wants Cesc to go public with his desire to return to Barca. Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol's statements that they would like to see Cesc back. It is worth noting in the midst of all this clamour, the most noticeable silence is that of Pep Guardiola.
If he knows anything it is this, he will be held responsible as the man sitting Cesc on the bench, while Xavi and Iniesta take to the field. The Barca midfield is the national midfield and we saw Cesc coming off the bench at Euro 2008, a situation that will mirror itself in this World Cup. Strip away the emotion of a Catalunyan re-union and in reality, Cesc, we see, is actually surplus to their requirements at this stage. Arsenal might relent but Pep Guardiola could be holding onto an expensive boondoggle and a player whose homecoming may not be as planned.