Coronavirus: Barcelona fear Neymar, Martinez transfers will be affected - sources
Barcelona fear the after-effects of the Covid-19 outbreak across the globe will have huge consequences on their transfer plans, including moves for Neymar and Lautaro Martinez, sources have told ESPN.
Europe's five major leagues have all been suspended as the continent grapples to contain the spread of coronavirus, with UEFA meeting on Tuesday to make a decision on how to move forward with the Champions League, the Europa League and this summer's European Championship.
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UEFA's decision will help domestic leagues, including La Liga, decide if and how they can complete their seasons. Things are particularly complicated in Spain, which on Tuesday announced there have now been over 11,000 Covid-19 cases in the country and approaching 500 deaths.
Sources at Barca have explained to ESPN that, whatever the outcome of this week's meetings, the club now expects to lose a significant amount of money this season and that will dictate how much they can spend on potential signings.
One source in the Barca hierarchy believes that prices are likely to drop but that doesn't necessarily mean clubs affected by the coronavirus crisis will be able to afford them.
"The football circus has frozen," he said of the uncertainty.
The paralysis of the game comes at a time when most clubs are planning for the summer transfer window.
Sources have told ESPN that Barcelona continue to work on signing a world-class forward to add to their attack. Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar and Inter's Martinez are their top two targets, but they may not be able to afford either in the worst-case scenario.
The club also want to make another three signings ahead of next season as they look to rejuvenate an ageing squad. But there is now an acceptance that it is difficult to move forward with everything up in the air.
Despite that, sporting director Eric Abidal and his team continue to work hard from home, with Spain at the beginning of a 15-day lockdown which is expected to last longer. People are only allowed to leave their houses if their jobs are still running, to go to supermarkets or to pick up medical supplies.
There are regular telephone calls to ask about players of interest, Skype chats with colleagues and hours making use of Wyscout and video content facilitated by the club to watch potential signings who they may or may not be able to pay for.
The Catalan club's revenue sheets for the 2018-19 season showed that they brought in €114 million in competition prize money and €298m in television revenue. Those figures could be slashed this year if La Liga and the Champions League fail to restart. Barca are top of the league and have the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie to come against Napoli. The first leg finished 1-1.
Those numbers don't include the money the club make in marketing and advertising -- which sources also believe will be affected -- and matchday revenue from ticket sales and merchandising.
Finishing the season behind closed doors is one option that will be floated, but that will also hit clubs in the pocket. Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu said playing the game against Napoli, which was later suspended, without fans would have cost the club €6m.
A source has told ESPN that Barca have scheduled a meeting for Tuesday to assess the potential damage. However, he also acknowledged lower league clubs could be hit far harder in the long-term.
Meanwhile, the players are all self-isolating and have been since last Friday's final training session. They have all been given individual exercise routines to follow and nutrition advice.