Messi’s Barcelona future thrown into fresh doubt by salary limit

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner
  • Updated: 17 May 2021 22:14 BST
  • 4 min read
Messi’s Barcelona future thrown into fresh doubt by salary limit

Barcelona’s financial woes have been brought into stark reality by figures published by the Spanish League (LFP), which outline their salary limit for the season.

The Catalans have seen this drop by 42% for the 2020/21 season. Whereas previously they were permitted to spend £578 million (€656m), their cap is now £338m (€383m).

This figure is worked out by the authorities taking account clubs’ reported earnings for the year before setting a limit on how much they can spend on wages. It is calculated by adding expected income to average transfer revenue over the previous three years and comes into force after the winter transfer market.

Much of Spain’s top flight have been adversely effected by the findings due to the coronavirus crisis, but Barcelona have been hit the hardest. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, for example, have not taken such a significant hit.

La Liga Salary Limits

Figures given by LFP

This explains why they have taken such drastic measures in the transfer market in recent months. Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Semedo, Arthur, Rafinha, Jean-Clair Todibo and Molla Wague were all offloaded in the summer with a view to driving down their wages.

Barca are expected to save over £37m (€42m) per year having seen these players depart. Suarez was notably the club’s third-highest earner on an estimated salary of £13.2m (€15m).

Given the dramatic cut to their budget, though, it is evident that there is still a significant gap to plug.

What this means for Barcelona

With this in mind, it casts further doubt over the future of Lionel Messi at the club. He spent much of the summer airing his discontent with the situation at Camp Nou and only stayed because he was legally obliged to.

As the club’s leading earner on over £61.7m (€70m) per year, it is probable that if he is to stay, he will need to take a pay cut. Given the friction between the six-time Ballon d’Or winner and the club, that is no certainty.

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  • The hole in their budget also explains why Barca are finding life so hard in the transfer window. They missed out on top summer target Memphis Depay because they were unable to meet Lyon’s asking price. If they are to sign him in January, they are likely to have to sell another big earner to finance the deal. Meanwhile, as many as five players could leave.

    Even a move for Manchester City centre-back Eric Garcia has been put on hold until the summer so the club can avoid paying a transfer fee for the 19-year-old. This looks the most probable route that Depay will find to Camp Nou, too.

    The figures ram home how precarious a financial situation Barcelona are in and provide fans the clearest explanation yet of why their side have not been forthcoming with signings.