Thirteen clubs from Europe's top leagues wanted to form a breakaway European competition earlier in the year.
The European Super League (ESL) was the subject of great controversy a number of months ago. Fans of the breakaway clubs were furious and staged numerous protests, some of them were reportedly violent as well. The idea of the league was quickly scrapped, or at least that was what a number of reports led fans to believe. All the clubs involved, barring Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus, backed out of the agreement and the idea was not something that was taken forward. Recently, however, Barcelona president Joan Laporta reportedly said that the ESL was still alive, despite the withdrawal of most of the founding clubs earlier in the year.
The announcement of the ESL came in April. The concept was that the 13 founding clubs from Europe’s top leagues would form a breakaway European competition separate from the UEFA Champions League. These clubs were Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Juventus, and Inter Milan. The problem that most people had with the idea is that there was no concept of promotion or relegation in the competition. It would have been an exclusive league only for the big money clubs of the world. Even domestic leagues like the Premier League and La Liga reportedly decided that the clubs participating in the ESL would not be part of any domestic competition.
Apart from Barcelona, Juventus, and Real Madrid, all the other clubs have withdrawn from the ESL and have signed agreements with UEFA prohibiting them from repeating their actions. However, Laporta recently said that the ESL was still alive and could very well go ahead in the near future.
“The project is alive. The three clubs who are defending the project are winning all the court cases,” he told television channel Esport 3. “Uefa cannot stop it, and the pressure on English clubs, who were those behind the plans, hasn’t had any effect. Granted, it could have been presented in a better way,” he added.
The Barcelona president currently has problems of his own. His club is in a devastating financial soup and it seems like it will take quite a while to get into a better situation. These problems were the ones that ultimately forced club legend, Lionel Messi, to leave and eventually join PSG. The club is reportedly in 1.35 billion euros in debt and have had to contend with the shock exit of Messi and loan departure of Antoine Griezmann back to Atletico. Meanwhile, senior players including Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, and Gerard Pique all took significant pay cuts to allow Barca to register new signings Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia, and Sergio Aguero.
Despite those issues, Laporta revealed that after becoming Barcelona president, he made an approach to Brazilian forward and former Barcelona player Neymar about a return to the Camp Nou, four years after his world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain.
“We tried to sign Neymar. He contacted us, and he wanted to come – he was crazy to come back to the club,” Laporta said. “However, back then we interpreted (La Liga’s) Financial Fair Play in another way. If we hadn’t have done so, we wouldn’t have made him an offer,” the Barcelona president added.