Spanish giants Barcelona and Atletico Madrid must drastically cut costs on their squads following new salary limits imposed by LaLiga on Tuesday amid the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Both Barca and Atletico will have to make saving of over €35million (£30.3m) in order to meet salary restrictions which are calculated in line with clubs' revenues, which have been hit hard by Covid-19.
The figures, published twice annually following each transfer window, dictate how much teams can spend on players, coaches, support staff and their youth teams.
With fans still prevented from attending matches due to Covid-19 restrictions and the global transfer market taking a big hit, most top European clubs have been unable to generate anywhere near the same sort of revenue as they had done pre-pandemic.
Barcelona are hardest hit by the new limits, and will be forced to reduce their costs by an additional €35.7m (£30.9m), to €347m (£300m).
It remains to be seen what impact the cuts at Barca will have on Lionel Messi’s future. The Argentine star is by far and away the club’s top earner, but he tried and failed to engineer a move away last summer and his current contract runs out at the end of the current season.
Should Messi stay, then it is likely Barca would either have to sell a number of players, or negotiate further salary reductions with the existing squad members.
LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, must make savings of €35.4m (£30.6m) to meet a new budget of €217.3m (£187.8m).
Spanish champions Real Madrid have the largest salary limit of all 20 league sides with €473.3m (£409.3m) to spend, and are one of only four clubs allowed to increase their costs ahead of the next campaign, along with Granada, Huesca and Celta Vigo.
LaLiga president Javier Tebas praised clubs for adapting to the challenges of the pandemic, including not having fans in stadiums for almost a year and a reduced transfer market, which he said had cost clubs an estimated €2billion (£1.73bn).
"Covid-19 put Spanish football to the test but the end is in sight and we can make some positive conclusions," he said.
"Despite earning €2 billion euros less, clubs, especially the big ones, have managed to cope with the crisis by reducing costs. This shows Spanish football is solvent."
He predicted Spanish clubs would see revenues return to pre-pandemic levels in two years and said he hoped fans could return to stadiums before the end of the season, but said it was unlikely until late April at the earliest.
Additional reporting by Reuters.