Barça have accelerated their ‘exit operation’ and seek to release Umtiti and Pjanic in order to lower the wage bill. The priority is to lower the salary bill to fit Messi, parting ways with players that Koeman does not want.
The club is overturned on one goal since several days ago: ‘exit operation’ of players that the club no longer counts upon. There are several reasons for this. On one hand, it is an urgency to square the numbers to be able to comply with the financial ‘fair play’ that LaLiga demands, an indispensable requirement, for example, to be able to fit the renewal of Leo Messi into the economic parameters at the salary level that is demanded by the Spanish football association. In addition, the preseason begins on July 12, that is, in little more than a week, and Ronald Koeman prioritizes working with players that he has in his project without any doubt.
In this sense, the club has been working for weeks to release the players that the Dutch coach does not have in his priority list. This is the case of Todibo, who was transferred to Nice (8.5 million + 7 in variables), Konrad de la Fuente to Olympique de Marseille (3 million) and the club is also about to close an agreement with Leeds for Junior Firpo (15 million). But these operations are just the tip of the iceberg. Apart from these departures, according to Mundo Deportivo, the club has also chosen to dispatch a couple of important cases on fast track: Samuel Umtiti (27 years old) and Miralem Pjanic (31) have been given the letter of freedom directly.
Last Tuesday, the same day that Barça terminated Matheus Fernandes’s contract, the Catalan club have also contacted Umtiti and Pjanic to give the two a letter of immediate release. Ronald Koeman counts on neither of the two players and Barça want to release some big paychecks, as occurs in the cases of the central defender and the midfielder, with salaries that are around 8 million euros net. The Frenchman, who has two years left on his contract, is amortized because he signed for Barça in the summer of 2016, so he will not represent any loss if he ends up accepting his release. The same does not happen with the Bosnian midfielder, who signed last summer for four years in exchange for 60 million plus another five million in variables, in an operation that was connected to the sale of Arthur to Juventus for 72 million. Pjanic has spent only one year at the club, 15 million of the transfer cost has been amortized, leaving 45 pending amortization, which would go to accounting losses in case of him going free.
According to MD, Umtiti did not accept the club’s proposal from the outset, given that he wants to rush his options to convince Koeman and because his priority continues to be Barça. For Umtiti, to consider a departure from Barça, the sports project must prevail, that is, the club has to convince him that they want him by presenting him with an attractive offer at a sporting level. Olympique de Marseille and Lyon have asked about his situation. In the case of Pjanic, before accepting the letter of freedom – taking into account that he arrived at the Camp Nou last season – he prefers to wait and explore the market to find a way out, either via transfer or through a loan. Juventus and Inter have been interested in him until now, given his experience in Serie A, and it has been published in France that PSG wants him too. If they agree to leave, both could ask for a transfer bonus when they arrive free at another club.
But this departure policy will not end only with Umtiti and Pjanic. According to MD, the message of the club is that there will be more players, who are opposing to leave, who will be given the freedom letter and if they do not accept it they will have to assume their role as players who are not counted on and they will have to warm the bench or the stands. In fact, this is what was communicated to Ousmane Dembélé (23 years old) when he was offered the renewal: “either you sign for another club or if you stay to go free in a year you will not play.” This decision of the club to give letters of freedom is a warning: the salaries must be lowered, among other things, to make room for Messi and improve the club’s financial situation.