With their former talisman now at Paris Saint-Germain after Barca could not afford the Argentinian’s wages, despite him offering to take a 50 per cent pay cut, the Catalan side proved that they could still be a force in La Liga after their season opener.
Pique gave them a 19th-minute lead at the Nou Camp with his 50th goal for the club, before Martin Braithwaite found the net in first-half injury time and in the 59th minute.
Sociedad hit back via goals from 20-year-old Julen Lobete in the 82nd minute and a 30-metre free-kick from vice-captain Mikel Oyarzabal three minutes later. But Sergi Roberto sealed Barca’s win in added time.
Pique, who took a pay cut so Barca could register some of their new signings, said on streaming platform Twitch: “In the aftermath of Leo and everything related to his exit, I think that this win gives the team a lot of confidence.
“It’s true that nothing will ever be the same again as when we had Leo, but I think we have a good enough team to get people excited, to compete for titles….
“Today was the first step towards that.”
He added that the other members of Barcelona’s leadership group – Roberto, Jordi Alba and captain Sergio Busquets – will also take pay cuts.
Said Roberto: “We will catch up with Pique for the wage cuts. Right now, the club was busy with Messi, but the talks will continue.
“We have been hurt by everything that has been said. For one reason or another, it hasn’t been finalised, but we’ll do it. Our stance has always been to help the club.”
Barca president Joan Laporta yesterday gave details of the “dramatic” financial problems that persuaded him to release Messi. “The economic and financial situation of the club is worrying, and the financial situation is dramatic,” he said at a press conference at the Nou Camp.
Barcelona, he said, have debts of 1.35 billion euros (S$2.16b) and a wage bill, at 617 million euros, that is “25 to 30 per cent higher than that of our competitors”.
He added: “We are all tightening our belts, in a couple of years, the club’s finances will be healthy…
“A new era is beginning. The short-term prospects are complicated, but in the medium-term they are magnificent