Gerard Pique has reportedly found himself at the heart of a dressing-room split at Barcelona after opting to go 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.
Gerard Pique was among four Barcelona players to sign a new contract earlier this week
His decision has angered his team-mates after he went behind their backs to sign the deal
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.
Under-fire president Josep Maria Bartomeu is trying to get his players to take 25% pay cuts
The likes of Lionel Messi (right) signed a letter refusing to negotiate pay cuts with the board
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.
On the pitch, Barcelona began their Champions League campaign with a 5-1 victory over minnows Ferencvaros on Tuesday night.
Despite riding their luck early on, Ansu Fati, Lionel Messi, Trincao, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele all scored at the Nou Camp in an emphatic victory.
Things went from bad to worse for Pique, meanwhile, as he conceded a penalty and got sent off in a moment of second-half madness.
Bartomeu has been under pressure for months, with protestors even standing at the gates
Things went from bad to worse for Pique after he got sent off against Ferencvaros on Tuesday