Unlike in other leagues, in Spain, how much a team can pay in wages is determined by the league and not by the individual clubs. As a result, Barcelona’s salary cap for the coming seasons is projected to drop to an almost unimaginable €160 million (unless Laporta can raise around €200 million by selling players and cutting wages).
Real Madrid’s cap will be around €300 million for the coming season. For context, Manchester City’s wage bill last season was around €410 million.
Before the pandemic, the two clubs had very similar salary caps. In 2019-20, Barcelona’s was just slightly higher (€671 million to €641 million). While Barcelona’s was almost halved to €347 million for last season, Madrid’s fell significantly too, although not so far, to €473 million.
In three years Barcelona has seen its wage bill fall from €671 million to €160 million, or 76%. That drastic reduction in wages is something you see when a club gets relegated in England. That Barcelona can still compete for trophies while shedding highly paid players is a testament to Lionel Messi and how much he carries that club.
In order to get under this new salary cap, both clubs will need to move players out this summer who are on high wages.
Currently the Real Madrid first-team squad contains 35 players, which is probably a dozen more than Carlo Ancelotti wants.
“We have a very big squad, and the first thing we have to do is evaluate the players we have, and reduce it a bit,” Ancelotti said.
“We’ll have to see how we do that. I know the squad very well, the young players too, and those coming back from loans. We have many options in the squad, (and) need to calmly evaluate everything.”
But moving names like Bale and Hazard, who make up 13 percent of Madrid’s salary budget between them will be really difficult.
Over at the Camp Nou, Barcelona are looking to get rid of Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann this summer, but finding clubs willing to pay any fees for them and then match such wages is basically impossible at the moment.
Barcelona and Real Madrid have dominated Spanish and European football over the last decade. But with Premier League clubs, and PSG, less impacted financially by COVID, we might see the biggest names in world football prefer not to go Spain for the first time in a decade.