On Monday, six-time Ballon D’Or winner and FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi announced on Instagram that Barcelona players will take a 70% pay cut while the La Liga season remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The players will also assist the club in order to ensure that its workers will receive their full wages.
His full message, which the rest of the players also shared, reads:
“Much has been written and said about the Barcelona first team in relation to the players’ salaries during this state of alarm.
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. Sometimes, we have done things on our own initiative during times when we felt it necessary and important.
It didn’t surprise us that inside the club there are some trying to put us under the microscope and pressure us into doing something that we were always clear we would do. In fact, if the agreement came a little late is it because we have been looking for the formula to help the club and also the workers of the club at this difficult time.
For our part, the moment has arrived to say that the cut will be 70% of our wage during the state of alarm. We will also help out the club in order for the workers to be paid 100% of their wages.
If we didn’t speak until now, it’s because the priority was to find solutions to help the club and to see who the most affected were during this situation.
We don’t want to sign off without giving a massive salute and our strength to all of the cules who are going through a bad moment in these difficult times and those waiting patiently in their homes until this crisis is over. Soon, we will come out on the other side of this and we will all join together.”
Other Spanish first division clubs such as Atletico Madrid and Espanyol have also announced temporary pay cuts during the suspension and there had been earlier reports of Barcelona’s wage cut plan, but the club had been unable to negotiate a deal with the players (an earlier plan was to . The players allude to this in the message, and it appears that Messi and the squad do not appreciate the pressure from some inside the club to submit to its leadership.
This is not the first instance of conflict between the Barcelona board and the players — and Messi in particular. Last month, former player and current sporting director Eric Abidal publicly accused the players of not playing hard enough under former manager Ernesto Valverde, seemingly suggesting that they were the reason the head coach was fired in January. Messi hit back at Abidal two weeks later, writing that Abidal should be accountable for his own role in the firing of Valverde. “Lastly, I think that when one speaks about the players, they should give names because if not they’re dirtying everyone and feeding things that are said and are not true,” he continued.
Then there was the rumor that club president Josep Maria Bartomeu had hired a PR firm to covertly attack current and former players on social media. The club, of course, denied these allegations and Messi said that we would have to “wait and see if it is true or not,” but that it was certainly “strange.”
In recent years, the club has strayed from its tradition of promoting young players from its famed academy, La Masia, in favor of splashing cash on top players like Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezman and Martin Braithwaite without seemingly contemplating how they fit into the team’s system and style of play.
Additionally, the club has seen a carousel of managers come and go with four coaches in the past seven years. And since Neymar’s record-breaking departure in the summer of 2017, the team has looked worse for wear, struggling with injuries, consistency and form on all parts of the pitch.
Things at Barcelona have not been good between the club and players for some time, but that all needs to get sorted rather quickly.
Messi’s current contract runs out at the end of next season, and it would be a shocking and complete failure on the side of the club if the world’s best player and face of the team were to leave.