Koeman denies Barcelona players are asking for too much money amid financial crisis

Ronald Koeman Barcelona
The Dutch head coach insists his charges have done their part to help the club negotiate it's way through the coronavirus pandemic

Ronald Koeman has denied that his Barcelona players have been asking for too much money in their contracts amid an ongoing financial crisis at Camp Nou.

The coronavirus outbreak in March of last year forced clubs across Europe to tighten their purse strings, with stringent protocols put in place to contain the spread of the illness.

One of the main restrictions has been the closure of stadiums to the general public, bringing an end to the consistent flow of matchday revenue from tickets, food, drinks and merchandise sales.

Barcelona have been hit harder than most, as they revealed debt numbers climbing as high as €1.2 billion (£1.1b/$1.5b) in their annual financial report earlier this week.

The Blaugrana's wage bill accounts for a whopping 74 per cent of the club's entire income, and steps have been taken to cut costs by reducing the salaries of a number of first-team stars.

The club's short term debt has risen to €730m (£648m/$886m), which is a €225m (£199m/$274m) increase from the 2018-19 campaign, leaving the board with little choice but to start trying to defer wages among Koeman's squad.

The Dutch head coach has dismissed suggestions that some of his players are still asking for lucrative sums as Barca continue to negotiate their way through the pandemic, while insisting that everyone has been doing their part to aid the collective cause away from the pitch.

"Barca suffers a lot because of the covid and it influences the economic situation of the club to play without fans and also because of the fall in tourism," Koeman told his press conference ahead of their Copa Del Rey round of 16 clash against Rayo Vallecano.

"I see the players involved in work and who are not worried about this issue I do not know if the players charge too much, the club offers contracts and the players accept them. We have all helped the club by lowering the salary. I do not know if it is true if they have charged and I cannot answer."

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The Blaugrana boss will be able to call upon club captain Messi again against Vallecano after the Argentine finished serving his two-match ban for being sent off in the Supercopa de Espana final defeat to Athletic Club on January 17.

Asked if the six-time Ballon d'Or winner will start at Camp Nou, Koeman responded: "Leo really wants to win and win titles. He is a winner and wants to play every game. Tomorrow I will give you the team in the talk and you have to wait until tomorrow to find out. Messi is a key player in many things and hopefully, with his quality we win games."

The 57-year-old added on whether a week's rest has benefited Messi: "On the one hand, yes because he had some discomfort but it has not been long either. He is eager, fresh and without discomfort. We need Messi at his level to win things."