MADRID (AP) — Barcelona’s veteran players are taking salary reductions to help the financially troubled club, Gerard Piqué said Sunday.
Piqué said he has already accepted a reduction and teammates Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto — all captains at the club — are expected to do the same soon.
Piqué said he had to be the first to take the reduction so the club could register some of its new players in time for its opening Spanish league game, which Barcelona won 4-2 at the Camp Nou Stadium against Real Sociedad.
The Catalan club lost Lionel Messi because it couldn’t give him a new contract that would fit into the Spanish league’s strict financial fair play regulations.
Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia, who both started on Sunday, reportedly couldn’t have been registered without Piqué’s salary reduction.
“It’s what had to be done,” the 34-year-old Piqué said. “The other captains will do the same soon. Because of a timing issue I had to be the first one so we could register the players. The captains have always intended to make the adjustments needed by the club. We are proud of this decision.”
There had been some reports that Alba had not intended to reduce his salary, and the player was jeered by some fans at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
“Sometimes there are misunderstandings,” Piqué said. “After last season ended, the captains talked and we were on the same page to try to reach a deal with the club.”
Alba said it hurt to hear “lies” about his commitment to Barcelona, and dismissed the notion that the club couldn’t keep Messi because other players didn’t want to reduce their salaries.
“I’ve always been willing to help the club,” he said. “No one should doubt me. I’ve been here for 10 years, and eight more in the youth squads. This is my home, the club of my life, and I’ll always help it.”
Barcelona’s debt is more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion). Barcelona president Joan Laporta blamed the previous administration of Josep Bartomeu for leaving the club in the dire situation that led to Messi’s departure.