Real Madrid and Barcelona agree 'non-aggression' pact around contract renewals
The famously water-tight 'gentlemen's agreement'
Real Madrid and Barcelona have agreed a 'non-aggression' pact with regard to contract renewals, according to Spanish sports newspaper Marca.
The idea is that club presidents Joan Laporta and Florentino Perez will not abuse their power in unsettling each other's players or use their presence to artificially inflate the wages of rival players in contract negotiations.
The past two years, in which Perez led a failed attempt to launch the European Super League and Barcelona lost their greatest ever player due to their inability to manage their own finances, have reminded both clubs of their co-dependency. Both want to dominate Spanish and European football, but without each other, the rivalry falls apart.
As Marca report, both clubs are always in open dialogue, and recent discussions have focused on an unwritten rule: respecting the contract situations of each other's players.
However, this does not apply to players who are in the last six months of their contracts, as Barça winger Ousmane Dembélé is currently.
In this case, usual rules apply and both clubs are free to enter negotiations with whichever player it may be.
This agreement has come to light after reported interest from Los Blancos in Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo.
Nothing has been signed to solidify this agreement, which would suggest neither party will stick to it when push comes to shove. But it is at least nice to see them pretending to be friends for the time being.
Another exception to this unwritten rule appears to be the pursuit of Erling Haaland. It is one of Real Madrid's top priorities to sign the Borussia Dortmund striker, and Laporta is hellbent on preventing the most sought after player in world football from heading to the Bernabeu.
Barcelona are willing to sell numerous players to fund a move for the Norwegian, but in their current financial situation - which will take a long time to resolve - it is difficult to imagine a world in which they can make that work. As we've come to expect though, that will not stop them from trying.