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Barcelona told to activate fourth ‘lever’ to register players

Barcelona have been told by La Liga they will need to activate a fourth ‘economic lever’ to register their summer signings and the club has also opened talks to see whether senior players including Gerard Pique will consider a pay cut to assist the process.

Barcelona activated their third ‘economic lever’ on Monday, with the club selling 25 per cent of their Barca Studios commercial arm to Socios.com, for €100million (£83.7m).

This follows the club selling a total of 25 per cent of their La Liga TV rights over the next 25 years to US firm Sixth Street.

The Athletic revealed this month that doubts remained within La Liga over Barcelona’s capacity to register the players and now it is understood they have been formally told by La Liga they will have to activate a fourth ‘lever’ – which could potentially mean selling up to 49 per cent of Barcelona studios – and may still face further requirements to inject cash or reduce costs. This could mean player exits or salary reductions for players already registered to the club.

Barcelona have been very active in this transfer window, bringing in Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen, Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha.

And the Catalan club are still after a new left-back, with Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso still an option. They are also keen on adding Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva — if De Jong, who Chelsea are optimistic about signing, is sold.

Barcelona, however, have not yet been able to register any of those signings due to the salary limits imposed upon them by La Liga. Ousmane Dembele, who signed a new contract at Barcelona after his previous deal expired in June, Sergi Roberto, and Pablo Torre, who agreed to join from Racing Santander in March, are in the same boat. Sources close to La Liga told The Athletic that Barcelona’s financial team were informed several days ago further steps would be required.

As such, senior players Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets have now also been asked to consider reducing their salaries to help the club register new signings.

While Barcelona are attempting to negotiate with Pique, 35, and Busquets, 34, they have the right to decline a salary reduction.

It is believed that the players are open to having the discussion with the club.

Yet while there is a recognition from the veteran La Masia graduates that the club’s previous Presidency may have offered wages out of sync with the current market, the pair have previously accepted repeated salary cuts and deferrals.

Last summer, Pique took a salary cut to allow then-new signings Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia to be registered in a similar manner. One year on, Depay is one of those players Barcelona are currently trying to shift out of the club.

Even when Pique accepted a reduction, stories emerged that he had taken more than he claimed and the defender ended up posting his payslip on Twitter to prove he had told the truth.

Later in that transfer window, Busquets and Jordi Alba also took cuts so that Barcelona could register Sergio Aguero.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta was bullish about having to activate further levers at Lewandowski’s presentation on Friday. He said: “We have done our job well and we think that we meet all the requirements. All of the documentation has already been sent and we are waiting for a response from La Liga.

“There could be some disparity, but as we understand that there will be no problems to because we have met everything [all of the requirements] and they will be able to register the footballers. If that isn’t the case, we are prepared to apply a fourth [economic] lever and we will do so.”

(Photo: Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

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