FC Barcelona

Barcelona demand stars take pay cut or face being sold

Max Cooper
Coutinho is one of several players who are being told to take a pay cut
Coutinho is one of several players who are being told to take a pay cut / David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona are prepared to sell a number of first-team stars in the summer transfer window as the Catalan giants continue to battle against their growing financial crisis.

La Blaugrana view a number of their highest earners as expendable assets, and with current club debts surpassing €1bn after suffering huge losses during the global pandemic, they are ready to take drastic action to begin balancing the books.

According to Goal, that action begins with a major clear-out within their playing staff, along with huge pay cuts. Here's a breakdown of Barcelona's plans to gut their squad this summer.

The 'must go' trio

Philippe Coutinho, Miralem Pjanic, Ansu Fati, Gerard Pique
Pjanic and Coutinho are free to leave Barcelona this summer / Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Philippe Coutinho, Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti have all been placed on the transfer list, and all three will be sold for the right price.

Pjanic only arrived at Camp Nou in the summer of 2020, but he has not impressed since his big-money move from Juventus. The Bosnian midfielder is also earning an eye-watering €16m a year, eating into a considerable chunk of their wage bill.

Umtiti is another high earner who Barça are desperate to offload, raking in €14m a year on his lucrative contract. The Frenchman is still struggling with a serious knee injury, an issue which has plagued him for the past three seasons.

His failure to return to consistent full fitness means he is a key player to move on, but equally he's become a much less attractive proposition for prospective buyers. And Coutinho is another must-sell, although they don't want to suffer a huge loss on the Brazilian, having paid Liverpool €120m in 2018.

Should they fail to find a new home, they could be asked to accept a much reduced salary for the remainder of their contract.

Pay cut negotiations

Antoine Griezmann
Stars like Griezmann will be asked to accept pay cuts / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Three more stars who Barça are willing to entertain offers for are fringe players Junior Firpo, Martin Braithwaite and Matheus Fernandes. However, the trio could be allowed to stay in Catalonia - provided they accept hefty wage cuts.

Barça are confident in shifting Braithwaite and Firpo however, having previously attracted interest from the Premier League.

It's not only the outcasts who are being asked to make sacrifices, either. Key stars Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Clement Lenglet and Antoine Griezmann will all be asked to reduce their salaries by new club president Joan Laporta, despite their prestigious standing at Camp Nou.

Barça would prefer for this crop of superstars to remain at the club due to their influence in the dressing room and their importance to the team, but they are also prepared to listen to offers, should they arrive.

The other players who still could be sold this summer are Ousmane Dembele, Sergino Dest, Gerard Pique, Riqui Puig, Francisco Trincao and Emerson Royal, as the president attempts to slash all costs leaking from the club.

The Untouchables

Lionel Messi
Barça are keen to hold on to Messi / David Ramos/Getty Images

That leaves only a handful of players who are considered too precious to sell. Captain Lionel Messi, who is currently in negotiations over a new deal, is one star they do not want to lose, along with youngsters Ronald Araujo, Ansu Fati, Pedri and Frenkie de Jong.

New signings

Sergio Aguero
Aguero has signed for Barcelona despite their financial issues / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Despite all of this drastic action to reduce the wage bill, it hasn't stopped Barça from reinvesting in their squad for next season.

Manchester City stars Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia have both signed pre-contract agreements to join la Blaugrana on 1 July for free, while Lyon forward Memphis Depay is also in talks over a move to Camp Nou.

Barça were also very publicly in the race to sign Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, but he has instead chosen to join Paris Saint-Germain, who offered him more than double the salary he would have earned in Spain.

Transfer strategy

Garcia has taken a 40% pay cut / LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Barça's new approach to the transfer market suggests some learning has been done. Aguero has accepted a significantly reduced salary in comparison to his earnings in Manchester (around a 74% reduction), picking up €6m a year as well as bonuses based on appearances, goals and trophies won.

Equally, Garcia has accepted a 40% pay cut from his previous salary to rejoin the Catalan club, signing a five-year deal until the summer of 2026. The contract also contains a whopping €400m release clause.

While Aguero is approaching the final years of his career, Barça will view Garcia and Depay as two players with great sell-on potential, and probably consider their wages to be a worthy risk in comparison to any future transfer fees they could accrue.

And Barça's decision not to renegotiate with Wijnaldum, having been blown out of the water by PSG's offer, shows that they are now only prepared to welcome players who are willing to make sacrifices for the club, rather than stars who prioritise their own financial wealth.