Pique willing to “play for free” amid De Jong standoff

Gerard Pique reportedly offered to play for free for Barcelona before accepting a salary cut during the club’s current contract dispute with Frenkie de Jong.

The Catalan giants have been told to reduce their financial outgoings after failing to register five new signings and two contract renewals this summer with La Liga. Last week, meetings were held with Pique and Sergio Busquets to persuade them to lower their salaries.

Busquets has agreed to wage deferral with Barcelona, which means he will accept a reduction in his immediate payments in exchange for his owed wages being repaid to him over the course of his contract, which could be extended beyond next summer.

Busquet’s agent, Josep Maria Orobitg, has reached an agreement with the club in principle to reduce the midfielder’s immediate salary, but the club will then owe the Spain international back payments to compensate him for their agreed contract.

Pique’s situation is different; the veteran central defender has agreed to a wage cut with the club. According to a report in Diario AS, he actually offered to play for free, but Barca turned him down. It does, however, heighten the speculation about De Jong’s future.

The Dutch international is Barcelona’s highest-paid player, with an additional €17 million in unpaid wages. The player’s agents, Ali Dursun and Hasan Centikaya, met with Barcelona officials last Wednesday and are urging the Dutch midfielder to fight for the money he is owed.

De Jong was one of four players, along with Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, and Clement Lenglet, to sign new contracts in October 2020, all of which were approved by the club’s previous board just weeks before they all resigned. Barcelona is reportedly considering legal action regarding De Jong’s contract.

Pique took a pay cut last summer to allow then-new signings Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia to be registered with La Liga, before Busquets and Jordi Alba took pay cuts to allow Sergio Aguero to be registered. To allow the club to sign Ferran Torres, Samuel Umtiti agreed to a salary reduction spread over a longer-term contract in January.

Andreas Christensen, Franck Kessie, Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, and Jules Kounde have all joined Barcelona this summer, but none will be available for selection until La Liga informs them that their contracts are financially viable for the club. The same registration issue affects Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto, both of whom signed new contracts after their previous contracts expired.

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