Credit Daily mail.co.uk
Gerard Pique has reportedly found himself at the heart of a dressing-room split at Barcelona after going behind his team-mates’ backs to sign a new contract.
The Nou Camp giants are in a cash crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic, with under-fire president Josep Maria Bartomeu doing all he can to balance the books in his final few months in the role.
His goal in the coming weeks, as reported by Marca, is to lower the wages of the first-team squad by 25 per cent while promising them an improved salary in the latter stages of their deals – something of a ‘poisoned inheritance’ for the next president.
While most of the players signed a letter refusing to negotiate with the board, Pique has now gone against the grain and signed his new contract, something which is said to have infuriated the rest of the dressing room.
Barcelona announced four contract extensions on Tuesday, for Pique, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Frenkie de Jong and Clement Lenglet.
Ter Stegen and De Jong had refused to sign the letter from the beginning, instead opting to go their own route to renew their deals, while Pique’s situation is more intriguing given that he did sign the letter, only to go back on his word.
Wednesday is expected to be the day that Barcelona begin their attempts to secure the salary reductions for the squad, so it comes as no surprise that they have announced the four new contracts just hours before talks get underway.
In March, Messi announced players had accepted a 70 per cent pay-cut so non-playing staff could remain employed during the pandemic.
If we didn’t speak until now, it’s because the priority was to to find solutions to help the club and to see who the most affected were during this situation,’ he said
‘For our party, the moment has arrived 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.’
Now, with further cuts required after Barcelona posted losses this summer of £88m, the squad is being ‘torn apart’ by the ‘split’ over who opposes the proposed salary changes.
Marca refer to the technique as ‘divide and rule’ as the board attempts to create a split in the squad, and the paper report that there are ‘huge’ cracks forming in the dressing room.
It marks the latest episode in a particularly tense year for a dressing room now on their third manager.
Relations between squad and board soured in February when Messi took aim at then director Eric Abidal over comments that players had pushed to have Ernesto Valverde sacked.
Abidal claimed in an interview that ‘many players were not satisfied’ with Valverde and so his position had become untenable – something Messi felt was a direct attack on the character of the players.