Barcelona are now adjusting to life without their former talismanic captain Lionel Messi, who said goodbye to the club during an emotional press conference on Sunday.
The 34-year-old admitted he was desperate to stay at Camp Nou and even offered to take a 50 per cent pay-cut, but Barça’s perilous financial situation made it impossible.
Messi, who is now expected to sign for Paris Saint-Germain, could not have continued at Barcelona even if he’d offered to play for the club for free.
Per The Independent’s Miguel Delaney, Barcelona had to bring their wage bill under 70 per cent in order to register Messi. It currently stands at 95 per cent.
Naturally, most Barça fans are reeling after losing arguably the greatest footballer of all time.
And some are fuming that members of the squad either refused to reduce their salaries, or refused to leave the club, this summer in order to help the club keep the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Samuel Umtiti refused to leave Barcelona on a free
One of those players is defender Samuel Umtiti who, along with midfielder Miralem Pjanic, Barcelona offered to release on a free transfer last month in an attempt to slash the club’s wage bill.
Ronald Koeman didn’t want to keep either player, according to Goal, but both remain on the club’s payroll for the time being.
Umtiti, a World Cup winner with France in 2018, wants to convince Koeman that he’s good enough to play for the club and has reportedly been working with a personal trainer throughout this summer to ensure he hits the ground running this season.
The 27-year-old came on as a second-half substitute during Barcelona’s annual Joan Gamper Trophy match against Juventus on Sunday night, which took place just hours after Messi’s farewell press conference.
However, the centre-back was booed before and during the match by fans in the stands at the Johan Cruyff Stadium.
Umtiti skipped Gamper Trophy celebrations
Barcelona won the match 3-0 - thanks to goals from Memphis Depay, Martin Braithwaite and Riqui Puig - and celebrated with the trophy afterwards.
But there was no sign of Umtiti during the celebrations.
Per Spanish journalist Josep Soldado, Umtiti was upset by the jeering and went straight to the dressing room after the final whistle.
Umtiti and Griezmann react on social media
The defender later posted on his Instagram story: “Sometimes, it's better to say nothing and let the silence take care of things”.
Umtiti was also supported on social media by teammate Antoine Griezmann, who posted a photo of his compatriot on his Instagram story after the match.
Emotions are clearly running high at the moment and it’s going to take time for everyone associated with the Catalan club to come to terms with losing their most legendary player in such unusual circumstances.
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