Another day, another billion euros Barcelona release clause. The Catalans have been extra cautious since losing Neymar to PSG, and any new contract seems to have a ridiculous amount of money attached to it. The latest player to mock the mandatory La Liga clauses is Ronald Araújo, who put an end to transfer speculation by signing until 2026.
Liverpool, along with most of the major clubs, were once linked with Araújo. While FSG were probably at the very least keeping an eye on the situation – perhaps in readiness for any future departures – a centre-back would probably never be an urgent transfer priority. Still, there could still be significant significance in the new contract from an Anfield perspective.
After all, there was a school of thought that Araújo would not be the priority for Barcelona either. He is one of a number of exciting young prospects currently sitting at the Camp Nou, and even amid his positional peers, he finds himself in a crowded group. Eric García fits more naturally into Xavi’s football philosophy, Gerard Pique is still a relatively regular first-team presence at 35, and Clément Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti both have four-year contracts left. Óscar Mingueza is also with the club.
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When Pedri, Ansu Fati and Nico González all got new deals, it seemed like Araújo could be left out in the cold. Barcelona has to prioritize carefully when it comes to finances right now, and those three new contracts (with two $1 billion release clauses and a $500 million bargain clause respectively) were the allowable expenses.
Since then, the team’s spending cap has fallen deep into the minus digits, meaning the only way money can be spent is by first saving equal to four times subsequent spending (the La Liga 1/4- rule). Under such strict terms, it wouldn’t have come as a shock to see Barcelona let Araújo leave.
By committing to him, they have inevitably made it more difficult to make new deals with other players. While the January transfer splash may have obscured matters, financial realities in Barcelona are still dire, as evidenced by the imposition of the negative spending cap. Any remaining leeway from Lionel Messi’s departure is gone. Liverpool and FSG may feel an opportunity.
The only remaining outlier in the latest crop of Barcelona talent is Gavi. Unlike virtually all of his peers, he has yet to sign a new contract, and his current deal includes a release clause worth talking about. Interested parties can negotiate directly with the 17-year-old by depositing £42 million with La Liga.
It is a transfer proposal that could interest Liverpool. FSG has been linked with the move, with the Mail reporting in February that they were “willing” to activate the clause. At the time, holding onto Gavi was said to have been one of the ‘primary objectives’ in Barcelona – nearly three months later, that has certainly been questioned.
Of course, £42 million for a 17-year-old is still a huge gamble. While the fee for FSG is not out of the question, similar expenses are typically made for players who offer more guarantees. But Gavi has been a revelation in his breakthrough season and with each passing game it makes more and more sense to trigger the clause.
According to FBRef, statistically, Jude Bellingham is the most similar player to Gavi in all of Europe. Available for less than half the price it would likely cost to move the Englishman away from Borussia Dortmund, it’s a transfer that could quickly look like a bargain. Liverpool in particular will be charmed by the pressing numbers, while the underlying expected goals and assists are also hugely promising.
Add to that the elite-level ability to advance the ball through carries and dribbles, and Gavi starts to look like the complete package. But with Barcelona signing almost every contract except his own, the door is undoubtedly ajar for Liverpool. Should FSG choose to seize the opening, it could well become very smart.