Lionel Messi hits out at Barcelona for 'putting players under the microscope' as first team takes 70 per cent pay cut

Club captain takes to Instagram to offer his version of events after Spanish champions introduce wage reduction for senior squad

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Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has criticised the club for their handling of the wage reduction process and revealed the players have taken a 70 per cent pay cut to help ease the financial pressures brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

Spanish champions Barca became the latest major European football club to announce that first team players had taken a hefty reduction in their salaries for the next few months, following the likes of Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Atletico Madrid to introduce similar measures.

There had been talk that the delay at Barcelona in implementing salary cuts was being caused by the players and their unhappiness at having to take such a severe hit to their wages.

However, Messi has vehemently denied such claims and has hit out at Barca for portraying the players in a bad light.

"A lot has been written and said about the FC Barcelona first team in regard to the salaries of the players during this period of a state of emergency," Messi wrote on Instagram.

"Before anything, we want to clarify that our will has always been to take a pay cut because we understand perfectly that this is an exceptional situation and we're always the first ones that have helped the club when we've been asked.

"We've even done it sometimes off our own back, [when] we thought it was necessary or important in other times.

"Therefore, it doesn't surprise us that the club wanted to put us back under the microscope and try to pressure us into doing something we were always going to do.

"In fact, if the agreement has been delayed in the last few days, it's simply because we were finding a formula to help the club and also our employees in such difficult times.

"On our part, the moment has come to announce that, as well as reducing our salaries by 70 per cent during the state of emergency, we're going to make some contributions so that all the employees at the club can earn 100 per cent of their wages during this situation.

"If we didn't speak until now it was because the priority for us was to find solutions that were realistic to help the club, but also those that are most affected by this situation.

"We don't want to sign off without sending our best wishes and lots of strength to all Barcelona fans that are going through such hard times, as well as all those who are waiting patiently at home for the end of this crisis. We're going to get out of this very soon and we'll do it all together."

Spain has been one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with the latest statistics showing more than 85,000 total cases and over 7,300 deaths. Around 16,700 people have made full recoveries in Spain.