Barcelona’s treatment of Emerson Royal has proven Ilaix Moriba and Samuel Umtiti right

Opinion – Barcelona have once again shown why calls for players to reduce salaries, leave the club or – in the extreme – play for free are absurd.

The financial crisis of FC Barcelona has dominated the headlines this summer, be it because of Lionel Messi’s departure, the Blaugrana‘s struggle register new signings or the shock exit of Antoine Griezmann late in the transfer window.

And throughout Barca’s attempts to wrestle the financial monster they have created there have been a number of somewhat quieter stories amid the transfer chaos this summer brought.

One of the more high-profile ones was the case of Ilaix Moriba, the young midfielder who refused to sign a new contract at Camp Nou under what he felt were unfair terms.

Barcelona made more than one offer, but the 18-year-old felt he was worth more, refusing to do what he felt was a club-friendly deal when it was his time to be rewarded with a big-money new contract.

At time of writing, the storm has passed on that front. Ilaix is now playing for RB Leipzig having been sold by Barca on the back of his refusal to sign a new deal on their terms.

But unacceptable actions on the part of Barcelona came before, and in the main, from club president Joan Laporta, who weaponised supporters.

Laporta knew full well that making the offers public would subject Ilaix to criticism. The ‘who does this kid think he is?’ argument soon took centre stage.

Racial abuse followed and vile abuse was a constant as the situation unfolded and all the while the narrative was being firmly controlled by Laporta and Barcelona, who repeatedly called out the midfielder for his firm contract stance.

Ilaix still claims the full truth has not been told, and he is right. Not least because we simply haven’t heard his side of the story, and in terms of protecting the player, his representatives certainly could have done more.

Though, make no mistake, the abuse the vitriol that this 18-year-old receives is firmly on Barcelona.

And he is not the only one to have received such abuse as a result of irresponsible action on behalf of club officials.

Pay cuts were another long running theme across this summer, with players expected to reduce or defer their wages to help the club.

Apparently, that’s how you show true loyalty to the club, and many did, including Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets.

Not that they were in a position to say no. That’s not to say they would have, but all three are club legends who risked having their respective legacies tainted after the club made it very public they would be negotiating new club-friendly terms with these players amid their crisis.

Attempts with other players did not go so smoothly.

It’s unconfirmed whether Barcelona asked Samuel Umtiti to reduce his salary, but he was put up for sale, and his eagerness to stay at the club, and indeed suggestions he did not want a pay cut, led to booing from supporters.

The defender who has seen his body deteriorate for the cause of playing for Barcelona was booed repeatedly by supporters who – just like in the case of Ilaix – sent vile abuse in his direction.

Umtiti was yet another victim of public betrayal from Barca, and all this happened during – as well as after – Barcelona were trying to scrape together every penny to pay Lionel Messi a reduced but still eye-watering wage.

Is that fair? Since when did doing right by the club mean kissing goodbye to a contract you have earned? And what reason have Barcelona given players to agree to it?

Sure, Barca have served as a magnificent platform for some of these players to become superstars, and the club have paid them well, too.

But if we are going to look at this through a lens of capitalism- as we must in modern football – make no mistake about it, players like Pique and Sergio Busquets would have done it elsewhere had it not been Barca, and they would have been paid for it all the same. Ilaix has been a good example of that, finding a club that does value him in Leipzig.

And while it is a noble gesture indeed that some players have decided to help the club in its hour of need, no matter what noises Barcelona have put out, no matter what smart comments Laporta has made in front of a camera, it should in no way project shame onto those who have not done those club-friendly deals.

Players like Umtiti want to ensure the best life they possibly can for their families having earned the right to sign a bumper contract, young stars like Ilaix want to maximise their earnings because they have no idea if an Ansu Fati-like injury awaits them around the corner.

These are human beings fighting for their worth, while Barcelona are a business trying to maximise wealth.

And if you needed any reminder of that, take a look at Emerson Royal’s gut-wrenching interview following his Barcelona exit.

He arrived this summer to fulfil a dream of playing for Barcelona. He posed with a picture of a Barcelona shirt with Joan Laporta with a smile from ear-to-ear.

Just 29 days later, he was sold for a profit of around €5million. In just 29 days he had gone from a player who had earned the opportunity to play and to fulfil his dreams with Barcelona having impressed at Real Betis to being shown the door because it is club above all else.

And the list of players to have been let down by Barcelona – and many other clubs – for business reasons goes on and on.

It is business before all else for so many of these clubs, and it’s for that reason why it must be individual before all else for players. For Umtiti, for Ilaix, for Emerson and many others, none of which are likely to get the same help from their club in their hour of need.

Tags Emerson Royal FC Barcelona Ilaix Moriba Samuel Umtiti


  1. Dan Burcea says:

    “The defender who has seen his body deteriorate for the cause of playing for Barcelona”! This is the greatest nonsense I have ever read. Umtiti broke up playing for France, although he was advised by the Barcelona medical staff not to do so. Embarrassing.

    1. catalannation says:

      exactly the point!

  2. Hamid Jnr. says:

    Get facts right before posting something.

  3. Hamid Jnr. says:

    Get your facts right before posting something.

    1. Levi G. says:

      Jamie – your opinion makes sense partly, but is not fair enough. Although president Laporta and his board have taken many unpopular decisions, they are doing their best to fight the fatal legacy of the previous board. Everything has started after Neymar’s departure, then bosses have lost their minds and any control of transfer & wage decisions. Imagine the degree of problems, if they could not keep Leo.

    2. Thamizhan says:

      You are clearly not a sports writer, umtiti shouldnt have gone to the world cup where he actually deteriorated his knee, moriba shouldnt have asked for a pay raise when the club was in debt of 1 billion quid and what do you expect a club in debt to do.. keep the players???
      Stop making this a racial issue ffs,

      1. D says:

        Well said. The clown show that is this message board of siccophants is exactly part of the problem you articulated. “Fans” don’t GAF about these players but for what they can do for their entertainment. And not a single one of them would give up money they’d earned. Hypocrites. liars. And more than a fair share of bigots (the racist abuse perpetrated against these players is fact….yet only excuses and ignoring it on this board). Toss off, the lot of you.

        1. Hrumph says:

          I agree completely, footballers have jobs just like anyone else, families to take care of, as well as charities. So when they agree a contract it should be like any other contract how would you feel if this was your company, the truth is the club was greedy and went after everything but the players should not have to give up anything not should they be required to whether or not they play. The fans are crazy and unfair

          1. Dan Burcea says:

            By the way, do you know what family Umtiti has? Do some research and you will be surprised. He is a billionaire in euros who can have children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and two more generations completely save.

  4. Jake says:

    Wow, was this piece written by a Madridista? It’s chock full of misinformation. Giving it the moniker of ‘Opinion’ is a gross understatement.

    1. Andrew King says:

      Such a load of crap… How exactly has Umtiti earned his 8m/year since 2018, considering that he was completely unavailable for selection one third of the time, while for the rest he was either struggling for fitness? Are we supposed to feel sorry for players who prefer to be benchwarmers on a good salary instead of actually plying their trade? What exactly is unfair in trying to get an overpaid & unproductive employee off your staff?

      1. Harry says:

        Do you mean to say given the opportunity to play they wouldn’t? That sitting on the bench is their choice, take pjanic for instance assuming what he said is the truth, it’s his truth anyways. The gave everything but still could not get into the first team because of the coach and yes they did earn those contracts whether you like it or not else the club would not have awarded them unless you mean to say it was the club’s mistake in awarding them at which point the club is to blame these players did nothing to block messis return or any other things they have been blamed for they play their trade to the best of their ability and deserve to be respected.

  5. Subhajit says:

    Okay! I get where you are coming from!

    Focus on positives!

  6. Merza says:

    There are players in Barca squad doesn’t deserve half their salaries and bonuses. Umtiti, Coutinho, Greizman etc .

  7. catalannation says:

    what a lame article? the guy who wrote it forgot the fact that umtiti went against the clubs advice to do what he wanted during the world cup and messed up his kness. and now the club should bear his mistake and also bear his arrogance. and this writer has audacity to question the fans who booed him?! umtiti should be treated even worse. perhaps beaten up and thrown out of the clubs by the ultras. and ppl sld stop writng such convenient articles just cos they could

  8. Ninet modey says:

    Lol this is a terrible piece. Barca players are overpaid. Umtiti earns more than Van dijk. Are you ok Mr writer of this article?

  9. Andrew King says:

    As for Ilaix, how exactly would have he gotten this Leipzig contract if the evil club that is Barcelona wouldn’t have provided him an opportunity to play in the first team? Or for that matter, teach him to play football since the age of 7 (when he joined La Masia)? Eight months ago he was just another promising youngster, nothing more, and would now still be playing third-tier football at Barca B with no one caring about his contract demands if Koeman had not decided to freeze out Pjanic, or to give Puig more chances. Sure, he’s free to ask whatever he wants just as the club is free to call him out as greedy if he demands millions after 2 good games. As for the so-called “there’s more truth to it”, let’s hear it then. Why doesn’t he just come out and say “I asked for 50%, the club only offered 10% so we were too far apart?” Surely no breach of confidentiality, and no disrespect either.

  10. Andrew King says:

    Such a load of nonsense… How exactly has Umtiti earned his 8m/year since 2018, considering that he was completely unavailable for selection one third of the time, while for the rest he was either struggling for fitness? Are we supposed to feel sorry for players who prefer to be benchwarmers on a good salary instead of actually plying their trade? What exactly is unfair in trying to get an overpaid & unproductive employee off your staff?

  11. didi says:

    FC Barcelona under Barto and now Laporta has become the worst club in the world. If I were a young or older player no way would I sign with them. They treat players like trash even Messi. Shameful. Maybe one day Barca will regain the values it has always had and I can cheer for them again. Until then I turn my back on this shameful shameful club.

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