Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says the club will not be forced into selling any of star trio Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez or Neymar despite the economic power of the Premier League.
Neymar’s father confirmed that Manchester United had made enquiries during the close-season about a possible bid, while rumours linking Messi with Manchester City refuse to die down.
Concerns have been raised in Spain over Barca’s spending power following significant investment in the transfer market over the last three years, prompting further speculation that the Liga champions will be forced to cash in on one of their most prized assets in order to balance the books at Camp Nou.
Bartomeu, however, is adamant they can compete with the riches on offer in England’s top flight, despite admitting that the strength of the division – with clubs bankrolled by huge television broadcast deals – makes it “a rival” to Barca.
“Barcelona will always have the financial means to cope with offers from English clubs for players like Messi, Neymar or Luis Suarez,” he told the Financial Times, before claiming that losing players from the youth teams is the greater danger.
“Young players of 16 years of age receive very tempting offers from the Premier League and we lose some every season. Our rival is the Premier League. It is not a specific club, it is the strength of the Premier League itself.”
Bartomeu is aiming to make Barcelona the envy of the football world in terms of financial turnover and has set a target of breaking the €1billion barrier for revenue by 2021.
The 52-year-old does, however, consider it a shame that the club is forced to pursue lucrative commercial deals in order to compete, rather than return to the days when charity Unicef was emblazoned on their shirts instead of sponsors.
“There are no other clubs in the world, whether in football or in other sports, that think ahead more than one or two seasons. But here at Barca we do,” he added. “We want to be the first club to reach €1billion in revenues.
“We are competing with clubs that are owned by huge corporations or billionaires with unlimited resources. It would be a utopia to go back to Unicef.”