Another day, another one billion euro Barcelona release clause. The Catalans have been extra-cautious since losing Neymar to PSG, and every new contract seems to come with a ridiculous figure attached. The latest player to make a mockery of the mandatory La Liga clauses is Ronald Araújo, who has ended transfer speculation by signing through to 2026.
Liverpool, along with most big clubs, were at one time linked with Araújo. However, while FSG probably at least kept an eye on the situation — perhaps in readiness for any possible future departures — a central defender was never likely to be a pressing transfer priority. Even so, there may still be some major 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 at the Nou Camp, and even amid his positional peers he finds himself in a crowded group. Eric García fits more naturally into Xavi’s ball-playing philosophy, Gerard Piqué is still a relatively regular first-team presence at 35, and Clément Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti are both contracted for another four years. Óscar Mingueza is also at the club.
When Pedri, Ansu Fati and Nico González all got new deals, it looked as though Araújo could be left out in the cold. Barcelona are having to prioritise carefully when it comes to finances at the moment, and those three fresh contracts (featuring two $1bn release clauses and a bargain $500m clause, respectively) ate into the allowed spend.
Since then, the team’s spending cap has dropped deep into the minus numbers, meaning the only way money can be spent at all is by first making savings equivalent to four times the subsequent expenditure (the La Liga 1/4 rule). Under such strict conditions, it would have been no shock to see Barcelona allow Araújo to leave.
By committing to him, they have inevitably made it harder to agree new deals with any other players. While the January transfer splash may have put a gloss on things, the financial realities at Barcelona are still dire, as reflected by the imposition of the negative spend cap. Any residual leeway from Lionel Messi’s departure has gone. Liverpool and FSG may sense an opportunity.
The one remaining outlier in the latest crop of Barcelona talent is Gavi. Unlike essentially all of his peers, he is yet to sign a new contract, and his current deal contains a release clause which is actually worth talking about. Interested parties can negotiate directly with the 17-year-old by depositing £42m with La Liga.
It’s a transfer proposition which could interest Liverpool. FSG have been linked with the move, with the Mail reporting in February that they were ‘willing’ to trigger the clause. At the time, it was said that keeping hold of Gavi was one of the ‘primary objectives’ at Barcelona — nearly three months on, that has surely been thrown into doubt.
Of course, £42m for a 17-year-old is still a huge gamble. While the fee is not beyond the realms of possibility for FSG, similar outlays have typically been on players who come with 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, Jude Bellingham is the most statistically similar player to Gavi in all of Europe. Available for less than half the price it would probably take to prise the Englishman away from Borussia Dortmund, it’s a transfer that could quickly start to look like a bargain. Liverpool will be particularly enamoured by the pressing figures, while the underlying expected goals and assists numbers are hugely promising too.
Add to that the elite-level ability to progress the ball through carries and dribbles, and Gavi starts to look like the complete package. But with Barcelona tying up almost every contract except his, the door is undoubtedly ajar for Liverpool. Should FSG choose to seize on the opening, it could end up being very smart business indeed.