Barcelona have paused talks with senior stars Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets over further wage cuts and will instead prioritise player sales to cope with the club’s financial situation.
Barça have activated several economic levers this summer to allow them to continue functioning and stay in line with La Liga salary regulations following a transfer spree.
League rules dictate each club’s spending power in line with their revenue, debt and operational costs, with the Catalans left in an alarming position by the end of last season.
But thanks to a major new commercial partnership with Spotify and deals to sell percentages of future television rights and other assets, the club was able to register Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie, as well as contract renewals for Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto ahead of last weekend’s La Liga opener.
Jules Kounde was the only summer arrival not registered for that game against Rayo Vallecano. To allow the Frenchman to play, Barça still need to remove the equivalent salary from the wage bill.
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The club turned to Pique and Busquets at the start of August to help ease the financial strain. It was later claimed that Pique had offered to play for free – not actually permitted under Spanish employment law which caps pay cuts at 50% - and was prepared to ‘significantly reduce’ his contract, having already done so last summer so Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay could join.
But Mundo Deportivo has now reported that talks with Pique and Busquets are on hold amid a ‘very complex and complicated’ situation. It is said that negotiations haven’t broken down since failing to reach an agreement late last week, but equally they are no longer advancing.
In order to register Kounde as soon as possible – Barça are due to face Real Sociedad in La Liga on Sunday night – the club will look to create the funds through player sales. Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sergino Dest are all available for transfer.
Barça have an €85m agreement in place to sell De Jong to Manchester United, but a deal has been delayed by complications relating to a vast sum of deferred wages owed to the player. But Memphis is closing in on a free transfer to Juventus after agreeing a contract with the Serie A giants.