Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique is expected to cut his wages again to help allow the club to register their summer signings and contract renewals - with reports in Spain suggesting the 35-year-old has even offered to play for free.
None of the five new arrivals or new contracts for Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto have yet been registered, with the start of the new La Liga season only days away.
Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie will have the option to tear up their contracts and leave as free agents if they are not registered with La Liga before the weekend. Other new arrivals for whom a transfer fee has been paid – including Robert Lewandowski – don’t have that same protection.
Barca need to generate revenue to give them the necessary room within their La Liga salary cap, which is a strict rule that prevents clubs from spending money they don’t have.
The Catalans lost Lionel Messi last year because they couldn’t afford to register his new contract and have raised substantial sums this summer by selling off stakes in future domestic television rights and in-house media revenue. The club has also now entered a long-term partnership with Spotify.
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Not all of the funds needed to raise spending power, which was astonishingly -€144m at the end of last season, have been secured. But Memphis Depay is expected to leave, which will command a transfer fee and remove his wages, while Frenkie de Jong is likely to join Chelsea or Manchester United. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who only joined in January, is another player starting to be linked with a move.
Pique, as he did on the eve of last season when Barca were still waiting to register Eric Garcia and Memphis, is set to step in and help – the club recently asked both he and Sergio Busquets, who has also repeatedly taken pay cuts.
SPORT has suggested that Pique informed Barca last week he will help facilitate things and will now ‘significantly reduce’ his contract as the new season looms. It is said the 35-year-old, who has won 30 trophies since rejoining his boyhood club in 2008, even offered to play for free.
Although a grand gesture, Pique cannot actually completely forgo his wages. Spanish law protects against financial manipulation by preventing pay cuts or more than 50%, which is the same reason that Messi wasn’t able to play for free and stay this time last year.