Messi never rejected wage cuts, says Barcelona president Bartomeu

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Lionel Messi agreed with pay cuts at the La Liga champions, after the captain criticised senior club figures behind the scenes.

Barca confirmed a massive wage cut to help the club during the coronavirus pandemic, with players agreeing to reduce their salaries by 70 per cent and making further financial contributions to ensure all employees are able to take home the full value of their wages.

The news came following reports of a disagreement between senior Barca players and club directors over the degree of wage reduction, with Messi denying the squad turned down the team's proposal to reduce salaries.

Bartomeu said Messi never opposed Barca's decision to carry out salary cuts, telling SPORT: "Messi told me from day one that this reduction had to be made.

"This proposal came from the captains. It is a gesture that demonstrates their commitment to the club."

Messi issued a statement on behalf of the players on Monday , which was soon shared by other members of the first-team squad, in which he insisted they had always been happy to reduce their pay in order to help the club and its staff during the nationwide lockdown, with La Liga under indefinite suspension while Spain attempts to arrest the spread of COVID-19.

The message accused those in charge of Barca of placing the players under unfair levels of scrutiny while negotiations over wage cuts continued.

Bartomeu added: "Perhaps [the players] have been frustrated by things said by people inside and outside the club, who do not have all the information.

"But the negotiations were carried out only by Oscar Grau and me and we have not said anything."

La Liga is currently suspended indefinitely as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through Spain, with the country suffering 7,716 deaths and 87,596 people still suffering from the illness.

With Spain still in a state of emergency as the government attempts to curtail the spread of COVID-19, La Liga and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) have agreed professional football will only return when the authorities believe it poses no risk to public health.

"The RFEF and La Liga agree the suspension of professional soccer competitions until the competent authorities of the government of Spain and the general state administration consider that they can be resumed and this does not pose any risk to health," an RFEF statement read.

"Both the RFEF and La Liga want to show their greatest public gratitude to all those who are dedicating their best efforts to provide essential services to Spaniards, and we also wish to show our sincere remembrance for all the deceased and a warm embrace from the world of soccer for all families that are losing loved ones."