FC Barcelona has been busy scrambling to offload as many players as they can in order to drastically slash their wage bill for the coming season. Unfortunately, they are still not freeing up funds fast enough and it appears as though Lionel Messi may be able to help solve the problem by leading by example.
Earlier this week, it has been reported that the Copa America winner has agreed to the terms of a new contract with the Catalan giants. The biggest detail that was revealed is the 50% wage cut that the Argentina captain has reportedly accepted. That alone will slash the club's wage bill by a large amount, owing to the fact that Messi was the club's highest paid star for the past several years.
Even with Messi's pay cut however, they club still does not have enough room in their salary cap to register his new contract nor those of their other new signings this summer. The Blaugrana are now hoping that Messi's example will prompt some of the club's other top earners to become more open to salary adjustments.
Messi has shown what he is willing to sacrifice for the club, and they are hoping that the likes of Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba will follow suit. These four players are currently expected to form the backbone of the squad alongside Messi next season. However, they will be asked to make personal sacrifices to make it happen.
Club management will be renegotiating the wages of these four players, and it remains to be seen if they can be persuaded to slash even more from their already reduced salaries. It may be remembered that Barcelona already went through a round of pay cuts late in 2020, after it became clear that the club is suffering a massive financial blow due to the prolonged novel coronavirus pandemic.
The club had already been in financial trouble to begin with, and the pandemic only exacerbated the situation. Last year's pay cuts affected everyone in the organisation, from the first team all the way to the stadium staff and other employees. Now, even more sacrifices are needed.
The club will now have to depend almost entirely on the players' judgement, owing to the fact that they are protected by their contracts and are not obligated to accept any pay cuts at this time. Sergi Roberto has a contract until 2022, and the club is reportedly offering an extension for two more seasons to make him more open to a salary reduction.
Busquets meanwhile, still has a contract until 2023. Pique and Alba are even more secure, with deals running all the way until the summer of 2024. Needless to say, there is not much leverage on Barcelona's part.
The club's director of football, Mateu Alemany, has appealed to the players to adapt to the club's "new reality." It remains to be seen if Messi's example will be emulated by the other players.