Barcelona would have to reduce costs and increase their income to be able to make a significant investment in the squad this summer, LaLiga has said, after setting the club’s spending limit after the January transfer window at -€144 million.

Barca are the only club in Spain’s first and second divisions — all of which are subject to strict financial controls on spending on transfer fees and contracts — to receive a negative cap, with Real Madrid topping the list with a €739m spending limit.

In a presentation on Monday, LaLiga said Barca’s heavy losses, which were €242m more than had been anticipated, accounted for the difference between the new -€144m figure and last summer’s €98m limit.

The spending cap will restrict Barca’s ability to act in this summer’s transfer market when ESPN has reported that the club hope to compete with Real Madrid and Manchester City to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

There have been doubts about the club’s capacity to finance a deal that could total €350m in transfer fee, commission and salary.

“To make signings, Barcelona have to reduce the costs they have now or bring in more income. There’s no other way,” LaLiga director general Javier Gomez said when asked about Haaland in a media call on Monday. “Barcelona’s losses are greater than their capacity to bring in income. That’s why [the spending limit] is negative.”

For now, Barca’s spending will be limited by what’s known as “the 1:4 rule”. Introduced to allow clubs to remain competitive in financially challenging circumstances — which dictates that clubs are only able to spend 25% of any savings made.

“Until [Barca] recover the net worth that they’ve lost, the only way they can spend is with the 1:4 rule, where if you save €10m, you can spend €2.5m,” Gomez said. The only way for Barcelona to sign is by making savings on [player] contracts, until they generate income.”

A new sponsorship deal, the club have been in talks with Spotify, would be one potential source of income, as well as joining LaLiga’s CVC investment deal or selling a percentage of the club’s content creator Barca Studios.

Savings could be made by further cuts to the wage bill, with the departures of players such as Ousmane Dembele — whose contract expires this summer — or Sergi Roberto, who is yet to agree a new deal.

Despite their finances, Barcelona were able to strengthen their squad in January by signing Ferran Torres for €55m from Manchester City, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a free transfer from Arsenal, Adama Traore on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers and Dani Alves, who was out of contract.

“The signing of Ferran came halfway through the season, so only half of the cost counts towards this season,” Gomez said. “They had Yusuf Demir on loan with an option to buy but he left in January, so that gave them capacity to sign. Sergio Aguero had to retire. [Philippe] Coutinho left, with his high contract. And also [a new contract was agreed] with [Samuel] Umititi. With those savings, they were able to make those signings.”

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