Lionel Messi has dropped probably his most significant statement in his entire career. The Barcelona star announced that the club’s first team players would be taking a 70% pay cut during the coronavirus crisis, which has ravaged the club’s income.
Ig Messi. [leomessi]— barcacentre (@barcacentre) March 30, 2020
(with English translation) pic.twitter.com/oNt7Bu6rM1
In addition, the captain stated that the club’s employees would continue earning 100% of their salary during this difficult time, with money from the first-team players’ own pockets being used to help the cause.
This news comes while the Catalan press had rumored that the club was not happy at the players because they had not agreed to a reduction quickly. The leaks in the press which painted the players in a bad light seemingly annoyed Messi. In the statement, Messi said the players were “surprised that from within the club, there were people who tried to put us under the magnifying glass and tried to put pressure on us to do something we always were clear that we would do.”
The already-fraught relationship between the board and the club’s biggest star surely will be even more strained now. The club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, was still recovering from a scandal which saw him accused of running a secretive social media campaign at his perceived enemies, including at times Messi himself. Now, he is certainly under more pressure.
Messi spoke for all players as team captain, with other important figures like Antoine Griezmann releasing the statement soon after. The Argentine is a huge figure at the club, obviously, but he is now clearly the players’ chosen leader on institutional matters as well.
Bartomeu is term-limited soon, but it will be hard for his hand-picked successor, whoever it may be, to win an election if he is seen as consistently angering Messi.