Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has accused Real Madrid of being bankrolled by Spanish lender Bankia as his own club announced projected record revenues of over €500 million for the 2013-14 season.
Pique, who rejoined Barca from Manchester United in 2009 for €6 million, said that his side would never do something like splash out €160 million on just three players as Madrid have done this summer with Gareth Bale, Asier Illarramendi and Isco.
"I have read that Madrid have spent €1.2 billion since 2002,” Pique told Gazzetta dello Sport. “We have spent money as well, but we do not have Bankia. We have [Lionel] Messi, Xavi [Hernandez], [Andres] Iniesta, [Carles] Puyol, [Victor] Valdes, [Sergio] Busquets, Pedro [Rodriguez]... a generation that cost nothing.
“That is our key to competing with Madrid. We have bought [Zlatan] Ibra[himovic], [David] Villa, Neymar -- but one a year. We do not do what they did, not having won anything for a season, and sign Bale, Illarramendi, Isco..."
According to AS, it was the UK arm of Spanish lender Banco Santander, not Bankia, that helped Blancos president Florentino Perez finance the summer’s record-breaking Bale deal. Bankia was formed by the amalgamation of a number of banks, including Caja Madrid, in the fall-out from the bursting of Spain’s property bubble and has subsequently received EU bailout money.
It is thought to be scaling back its dealings with football, and is currently in negotiations with Valencia about how to best manage that club’s debts, which stand at around €400 million.
Nonetheless, Pique -- who was educated at Barca’s famous La Masia training academy, underlined his feeling that Madrid were far more powerful economically at a press conference.
“Barca have never had the chance to spend so much money,” he said ahead of the Champions League meeting with Ajax. “When things go badly, historically, we did not have that possibility. We know we have the good fortune of this unique generation that has come out of La Masia and not cost any money. Without those players we could not compete with Madrid, because they have a bad year and then spend so much on Bale, Isco and Illarramendi. We fight with what we have.”
Earlier on Tuesday, club secretary Toni Freixa had announced record financial results.
Ahead of Barca’s upcoming annual assembly, Freixa presented a proposed budget of €509 million for 2013-14 and expected a surplus of €36 million after tax for the season.
It was also revealed that the club’s total income last season -- which stood at €21 million more than expected -- due to Thiago Alcantara’s sale to Bayern Munich and extra advertising deals.
A club statement accompanying Freixa’s comments read: “FC Barcelona’s budget for the 2013-14 season will be €509 million. That is the first time in club history that the budget has been over €500 million, while operating income for last season was €491 million, €21 million more than originally budgeted. All told, the board’s prediction is that the 2013-14 season will close with a surplus of €36 million after tax.”
Freixa, a close associate of Barca president Sandro Rosell, said the results were good but did not mean the club would veer from its current ‘austerity’ policy.
"But this is not a message of triumph,” he said. “It will still be difficult to manage the club and we have to continue with our austerity policies.”
Barca also announced on Tuesday that work will soon begin on a new €5.2 million indoor pavilion at the club’s Ciutat Esportiva training ground.