Upon taking over the reins from Quique Setien, one of FC Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman’s main responsibilities was getting rid of the deadwood.
And in a series of phone calls made on his first full week in charge, the Dutchman went about telling Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic that they had all become surplus to requirements at the Camp Nou on his watch.
Long-linked to a return to his former club, Rakitic was the first to leave for Sevilla for €1.5mn plus a further €9mn in variables – though only three of those are likely to be handed over for total appearances and final La Liga positions, with perhaps a further €1mn forthcoming if Julen Lopetegui’s men can win the Europa League again.
Lest we forget of course that after a fine World Cup campaign that saw him lead his native Croatia to the final in Russia, PSG had offered €90mn for the 32-year-old’s services in 2018.
Knocking that back, Barça then went on trying to hound their midfielder out of the club for the next two years, at one point offering him in poorly put-together failed swap deals for Neymar which prompted his insistence that he wasn’t a “sack of potatoes”.
As miserly as the amount was, at least some cash was recovered on Rakitic. Elsewhere, Vidal, Suarez, and most shockingly, Rafinha were all allowed to exit Camp Nou stage left without a single cent changing hands.
Suarez, who cost a fee north of €80mn in the same summer of 2014 window that saw Rakitic join, switched to Altetico Madrid. And though they have drawn their last two matches 0-0 with the Uruguayan starting, his brace and assist debut off the bench in a 6-1 mauling of Granada pointed to this move possibly coming back to bite Barça.
A late surprise on deadline day, however, many fans and pundits were baffled by Rafinha’s departure.
Barça previously rejecting proposals of €10mn from Celta Vigo for their academy product, they have eventually let the Brazilian Olympic gold medalist join continental rivals PSG scot free though €3mn might later come in variables.
And with Jean-Clair Todibo additionally shipped off to Benfica on a two-year loan, then, Barça have gifted several of their players to various outfits.
Granted these individuals may be unwanted by Koeman, but in cash-strapped times when it has been revealed that the club made a €97mn loss and saw a €203mn decrease in revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, gaining a grand total of €1.5mn on four experienced stars is hardly strong business acumen.