ANALYSIS-Soccer-Unusual Bojan Krkic 'loan' deal may catch on

Reuters

Mon, 25 Jul 19:25:00 2011

Barcelona's unusual deal with AS Roma for the transfer of forward Bojan Krkic to the Italian capital, according to which the La Liga club must buy him back in two years, is the kind of innovative loan agreement that could catch on.

Top clubs with large squads containing talented youngsters like Bojan warming the bench may follow Barca's lead and seek similar deals, at little real cost, that give players a chance to develop abroad, analysts said.

The benefit for the club taking on the player, in this case Roma, comes from getting a potentially useful -- albeit relatively untried -- addition to their squad without having to scrape together an exorbitant transfer fee.

For cash-strapped clubs in a time of economic hardship that is a major bonus.

According to Roma's statement to the Italian stock exchange, Barca agreed last week to sell them Spain Under-21 international Bojan for 12 million euros ($17.3 million), payable on July 1, 2013, but are obliged to repurchase him before then, for 13 million euros, at the end of the 2012-13 season.

Roma, who have agreed to pay the 20-year-old an annual gross salary of 3.2 million euros for the next two seasons, have the option of blocking the repurchase but would have to pay another 28 million euros in three equal tranches in July 2013, January 2014 and July 2014.

Jaume Llopis, a senior lecturer at the IESE business school in Barcelona, described the operation as "innovative and creative".

He said he was not aware of a similar deal and essentially what the two clubs had agreed was a bank loan from Roma to Barcelona of 12 million euros.

"In return, Barcelona gives them their player as a guarantee and this loan has to be repaid in two years time with interest of 1 million euros," he told Reuters.

"The obvious advantage for Barcelona is that they don't have to pay the player's wages, while the advantage for Roma is that they get a good, young player for two years at a relatively low cost.

"Real Madrid, for example, could conduct a similar operation with one of their young players from the youth school so that they develop for a time at another top club and then come back.

"These operations could be for young players with a lot of potential who don't have a regular place in the first team."

Jose Maria Gay, a professor of accounting at the University of Barcelona and an expert on soccer finances, also said he was unaware of a similar agreement.

The Bojan deal appeared to be like a regular player loan but with a new kind of "leasing" element, he said, adding that his opinion was based on what had been made public and there could be significant unknown details in the contract.

"For a club like Barcelona this operation appears very positive in both economic and sporting terms," Gay told Reuters.

"Barca already have quite a few promising players who don't hold down a regular place in the first team and who can't carry on playing for the B side.

"Instead of having them unhappy and warming the bench or not even making the squad Barca loans them out for two years to a top club."

Roma, instead of risking a large investment in a player unproven in Italy's top flight would get his services for two years, Gay said.

"They don't have to make a multi-million euro bet on a player who later - and let's hope it's not the case - turns out to be a complete flop.

"I have the impression that this 'Operation Bojan' could really catch on now."

Roma's willingness to agree to Barca's terms may have something to do with the precarious state of their finances, even after the arrival of new owner, U.S. businessman Thomas Di Benedetto.

Whether Barca can convince Chelsea to sign up to a similar deal for their 19-year-old midfielder Oriol Romeu, another youth school product whom the English Premier League club have said is set to move to London, remains to be seen.

 

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