Lionel Messi with his sixth Ballon d'Or. Image Credit: AFP

Barcelona: Barcelona are taking measures to cut the wages of their players and staff to reduce the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis.

All professional players at Barcelona, including six-times world player of the year Lionel Messi, as well as non-playing staff, will face a compulsory wage reduction during the period of lockdown, the club’s directors decided at a board meeting held via video conference.

Spain was put into lockdown on March 14 with citizens only allowed to leave their homes in order to conduct essential business. The period is expected to be extended this weekend once the initial 15-day period has finished.

Spain has been Europe’s second-most impacted country by the pandemic behind Italy, with the death toll surpassing 4,000. Over 56,000 people have tested positive for the virus.

“Among the measures adopted, it’s worth noting those related to the workplace are motivated by the need to adapt the contractual obligations of the club staff to the new and temporary circumstances that we are experiencing,” Barcelona said in a statement.

“It is a reduction of the working day, imposed by the circumstances and the protection measures carried out, and, as a consequence, the proportional reduction of the remuneration provided for in the respective contracts.” Barca also said they have made their club and annex facilities available to the Catalan government’s regional health department.

Lionel Messi's endorsements will keep him comfortable

According to Forbes, Messi could take Barca’s wage cut and still be among the top three highest-paid athletes in the world. He earns $90 million annually. Cutting the star winger’s pay by 70 per cent would save the club an estimated $50 million, which would more than cover its operating loss last year.

Thanks to merchandising and endorsements from the likes of long-term partners Adidas and Pepsi, Messi’s take-home pay would still be greater than the total earnings of all players in the world except his nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo and his former teammate Neymar, who is now at Paris St-Germain. With endorsements, Messi could still earn $78 million annually, compared with the $127 million he made during the 2018-19 season.

Get all the latest local and global coronavirus news directly to your inbox by signing up to our newsletter.