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Barcelona hit back at 'erroneous' Pique, Alba, Busquets salary claims

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Barcelona have condemned an "erroneous" report that revealed the salaries of star players Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, among others.

Journalist Lluis Canut claimed Thursday that Pique was earning almost €30 million gross annually from Barca, with Sergio Busquets pocketing €23m and Jordi Alba €20m. The amounts in all three cases represented much more than had previously been thought.

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Canut also said that the wage cuts accepted by the three players last summer to help the club through a difficult financial period were merely deferrals and not reductions at all.

"In relation to comments made by Lluis Canut on TV3, Barcelona would like to clarify the following," the club said in a statement on Friday.

"1. The information on the salaries of certain first-team players has not, in any case, been provided by the club and the origin [of any leak] is unknown.

"2. In any case, the amounts referred to in the information are erroneous and do not conform to reality. Furthermore, in the case of the first three players referred to [Pique, Busquets and Alba], it gives fixed amounts which, as the sums involved are based on variables, will possibly never be reached.

"3. It is also false that the aforementioned players have only deferred their salary. Pique, Busquets and Alba gave up part of their salary when they signed contract renewals last summer.

"We consider it inappropriate, unprofessional and that [Canut] has acted in bad faith by offering this information as truthful. We regret that data of this type is provided because it infringes the personal rights of the players and deserves, when the information is true, confidentiality."

Pique later posted a reply to Canut on social media, appearing to claim that 50 percent of his base salary is now around €2.3m net by sharing a screenshot of his online banking.

"People like [Canut] charging public television to go on and defend their friends," Pique wrote. "Here is 50% of my [base] pay, as paid on Dec. 30. Have a little respect for yourself."

After lengthy negotiations, Barca revealed last summer that Pique, Busquets and Alba had agreed wage cuts to enable the club to register new signings Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero with LaLiga.

Due to the club's recent losses and debt problems -- their gross debt is over €1 billion -- they're currently operating under a LaLiga-imposed spending limit of €97m for the season.

As their wage bill alone is over that limit, they are only permitted to spend 25 percent of any savings they make.

The club currently don't have enough room within their cap to register new €55m signing Ferran Torres from Manchester City. However, following Philippe Coutinho's loan move to Aston Villa on Friday, the club is hopeful of being able to register him with the league soon.

Thursday's leak, which also included the salaries paid to Samuel Umtiti (€20m), Philippe Coutinho (€16m), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (€14m), Ousmane Dembele (€12m) and Sergi Roberto (€12m), was not the first related to wages paid at Camp Nou.

Last year, before he left the club, a report in a Spanish newspaper detailed how Lionel Messi's final four-year contract with the Catalan club was worth a potential €555m.

Barca's wage bill stood at over €600m in the 2019-20 season, but they have spent the last two years making cutbacks, including letting Messi leave for Paris Saint-Germain, to try and bring it back in line with their spending limit.