BARCELONA: Troubled former European and Spanish champions Barcelona have struck more financial trouble with the early termination of the club’s $35m sponsorship deal with Japanese retail enabler Rakuten.

Barcelona are more than €1bn in debt and suffered a major blow to prestige as well as broadcasting and sponsorship attraction with the departure of superstar Leo Messi for Paris Saint-Germain.

Conrad Wiacek, head of sport analysis at analytics specialist GloblaData, said: “This news will not only impact Barcelona’s finances in the short term, given its debt, but may also present serious questions regarding its global commercial footprint moving forward.

“Rakuten has felt its partnership objectives have not been met and this situation is unlikely to improve with Lionel Messi’s departure.”

Wiacek suggested that LaLiga’s commercial setbacks, with the loss of not only Messi but also Cristiano Ronaldo, was pushing Barcelona’s profile into uncharted territory.

He added: “Rakuten, having downgraded its partnership from full front-of-shirt sponsor in a deal worth $65m a year to a partnership worth only $5m a year and now to full cancellation, [means] one of the most iconic brands in sports will need new ways to reach fans in Asia.”