We have all witnessed the entire Lionel Messi transfer saga in the last couple of years. Arguably the best player in the world suddenly expressed his desire to leave Barcelona in the summer of 2020. Barcelona’s board had other plans as they eventually forced him to stay for another season. The Argentine superstar then left for PSG in the summer of 2021 completely free after his contract with Barcelona had expired.
The Catalan giants thus went through tough times at the beginning of the 2021/22 season. They struggled badly to match some previous successes in both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. The team decided to make a managerial change after a dismal start in both competitions as Xavi Hernandez was appointed the new head coach in November.
The former Barcelona midfielder has a very tough challenge to build a new team out of numerous injury-prone or non-satisfied players. While we are yet to see whether Xavi has what it takes to do so, let’s take a look at the list of paychecks in FC Barcelona for the 2021/22 season. Can you guess the top four highest-paid Blaugrana players?
1 – Frenkie de Jong – $24.5 million/year
Frenkie de Jong is the highest-paid Barcelona player in the absence of Lionel Messi. ‘Whether the former Ajax midfielder deserves such a privilege is up for debate’ said John Pentin, soccer expert at Newjersesafebetting. He has been the heart of this Blaugrana team ever since making the move from Ajax where he thrived in the Eredivisie and the UEFA Champions League. However, Blaugrana have performed beyond expectations in the last couple of years. Since Frenkie de Jong has been the key player in the center of the park along the way, we have the right to question his capabilities of being the leader in this squad. Also, the stats do not speak too much in de Jong’s favor. The Dutchman only had four assists in 37 La Liga outings in the 2020/21 season. He has scored three goals in the process. De Jong also had just two assists in seven Champions League outings last season without bagging a single goal along the way. He did not get off to the best start to the new campaign having only registered two assists (no goals) in 15 matches in the league and the Champions League combined.
2 – Sergio Busquets – $17.8 million/year
Next up is Sergio Busquets who makes $17.8 million a year. The 33-year-old defensive midfielder has a contract until 2023, meaning Barcelona will free up a solid amount of money as Busquets will certainly not be among the top-five highest-paid players even if he gets a new contract at the age of 35. Busquets has been one of the most important Blaugrana players in the last decade. He has won eight La Liga trophies, three Champions League titles, and seven Copa der la Rey silverwares (among other trophies) during his spell of reign at Barcelona. People at Camp Nou love him as the veteran constantly gives his all on the pitch. While he did fall in form in the last several years, Sergio Busquets is still one of the most important players in this Barcelona team. Even Xavi said in his early days as Barcelona manager that he expects Sergio Busquets to be the key to the success of this rejuvenated team. While it is hard to fully justify this hefty contract, we have enough reasons to understand it given the number of trophies Barcelona have won with Busquets at the defensive midfielder position.
3 – Memphis Depay – $12.7 million/year
Memphis Depay was a big summer signing for Barcelona ahead of the 2021/22 season. He never got a chance to play alongside Lionel Messi and he kind of received the role of the team’s main star all of a sudden following also the departures of Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez (earlier). Memphis joined Barcelona from Olympique Lyon where he had a spectacular 2020/21 season. The Dutch forward bagged as many as 20 goals and delivered 12 assists in 37 Ligue 1 appearances for Lyon. He also added two goals in three Coupe de France matches in the same season. These numbers were enough for Barcelona to sign him for a two-year contract with an annual salary of $12.7. Memphis accepted the role of the new leader of this team as he managed 7 goals and 2 assists in the inaugural 13 La Liga appearances. It was a fine start to his era at Camp Nou, especially if we know how poor the entire team have been at the beginning of the season. The 26-year-old Dutch forward is yet to deliver in the UEFA Champions League, though. It will be very interesting to track his progress in the second half of the season. Can he actually justify the trust given by the Barcelona board?
4 – Gerard Pique/Ousmane Dembele/Miralem Pjanic – $14.5 million/year
We will finish the list and the article with Barcelona’s biggest concerns at the moment. While there is merit in each of the aforementioned top three highest-paid stars, it is very hard to explain these hefty annual wages for this trio. Gerard Pique, Ousmane Dembele, and Miralem Pjanic have an identical salary of $14.5 million a year. This is wrong on so many levels. Pique has been the most consistent of the three players (as if it was some kind of achievement). However, he is miles away from his best form, he has big issues with frequent injuries at this point of his career, and he seems to be more dedicated to the Davis Cup organization. Ousmane Dembele has spent more time off than on the pitch since joining Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund. He made just two appearances in the Champions League in the 2021/22 season and he did not start a single of the opening 13 games of the 2021/22 La Liga campaign. Finally, Pjanic made only a handful of appearances before Ronald Koeman decided not to use him at all in any competition. The Bosnian midfielder joined Besiktas on a loan deal ahead of the 2021/22 season. Either way, as soon as Barcelona get rid of the hefty wages for this trio, they will breathe much easier.