Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is expected to ask Lionel Messi to take a pay cut for the forthcoming season when they meet face to face for the first time since the Camp Nou icon reluctantly agreed to stay at the club.
Messi rocked Barça when he issued formal notice of his intention to trigger a much-debated clause in his contact allowing him to leave the club as a free agent this summer, his frustration at breaking point. But Barça, backed by La Liga, rejected his request and the player refused to engage in a legal battle over the validity of the clause.
Whether Messi looks to leave next summer, when his contract is actually up and Barcelona have no control over the situation, is another matter. But, for now at least, he remains in Catalonia and will spend the 2020/21 season at Camp Nou as club captain.
That means now having to deal with Bartomeu, whose presence as president is alleged to be one of the main issues, amid the club’s financial concerns.
According to Spanish broadcaster Deportes Cuatro, Bartomeu is tasked with cutting costs to alleviate the strain and will ask Messi and the rest of the squad to agree to a ‘significant’ wage cut.
It is explained that Barça recorded a loss of €98m for the 2019/20 season, which could have been far worse still without the €72m sale of Arthur Melo to Juventus.
It is therefore vital to cut costs and Bartomeu will have to negotiate with Messi, who will be representing the whole squad in his role as skipper.
Messi and the Barcelona squad agreed to a 70% pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic in late March, but the Argentine wasn’t happy with the club handled the situation when it was suggested that the players might have been reluctant to accept the reduction to help.
“Before going any further, we want to make it clear that we were always willing to reduce our salaries because we understand perfectly that we are in an exceptional situation. We, as players, are always here to help the club when they ask,” Messi said at the time.
“It does not cease to surprise us that from within the club there were those who tried to put us under the magnifying glass and tried to add pressure to do something that we always knew we would do.”