Gerard Pique had a special clause in his Barcelona contract to ensure that he earned more money than Sergio Ramos.
The pair are former Spain international teammates but were fierce rivals at club level with Ramos – who joined Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent a year ago – the long-term captain at Real Madrid as Pique starred for Barca.
Amid claims that Pique has had a falling out with Barca boss Xavi Hernandez over a lack of playing time, the central defender’s contract details have been leaked by Spanish media outlet El Mundo. They outline how Pique’s deal, signed in 2018, made him the best-paid central defender in the world.
Over the five seasons in which it was in effect, between 2017-18 and 2021-22, Pique allegedly earned a gross amount of €142million (£124m). After taxes, Pique pocketed around €15m (£13m) per season in comparison to Ramos, who reportedly made around €12.5m (£10.9m).
Pique signed a contract renewal with Barcelona in October 2020 to help redress his payments in the wake of the pandemic, with his wage incremently increasing each season – from an €18m gross figure in 2020/21, which hit its peak at €40.8m for the final season of his contract in 2023/24.
Last month, Barcelona entered talks with Pique over reducing or deferring his wage but no agreement was reached between the pair. The central defender has started just one of the club’s eight matches this season – lining up against Cadiz in La Liga with his only other outing being a Champions League substitute appearance against Viktoria Plzen.
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Pique has fallen out of favour under Xavi following the signings of Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen with younger players Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia also enjoying more prominence in the line-ups in recent times.
The 35-year-old has two seasons remaining on his contract, which ends in 2024, with Sport reporting that Barca officials are keen for the defender to agree to tear up his contract and retire from playing entirely – although there has been no suggestion he is willing to do that. They report that this would save Barca €53m (£46m).
Pique said after the embarrassing 8-2 Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich in 2020: “If tomorrow [Ronald] Koeman tells me I have to go, I will leave football. I am not going to play in another team that is not Barcelona.”
The former Spain international is now the fifth-choice central defender at the club and alongside other veterans, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, is playing a reduced role this season compared to previous campaigns. The former Manchester United player has featured for Barca’s first team in 608 games.