MADRID, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona has on Monday extended the contract of central defender Samuel Umtiti until June 2026 in a surprise move that will nevertheless help to ease the club's financial situation.
The news is surprising as Barca was thought to be looking to either sell or loan the 28-year-old, whose past three years have been blighted by injury and who has made just one league appearance this season.
However, instead of moving Umtiti on, the club has extended his contract by a further three years, while reducing his salary.
"The French defender is reducing a part of the salary that he was due to receive in the year and a half remaining on his contract."
"This contract extension operation does not entail any greater financial commitments for FC Barcelona with regard to the player," explain the club on its official website, also expressing "gratitude to Samuel Umtiti for his willingness and the affection that he has demonstrated towards the club."
The most important consequence of the move is that it allows Barca to lower their wage ceiling sufficiently to register new signing Ferran Torres into the first-team squad.
A positive test for COVID-19 means that Torres has not been included in Barca's 24-man squad for the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia that was named by coach Xavi Hernandez on Monday morning.
Teenage Spain international Pedri, who is putting the final touches to his return from injury, also misses out due to COVID-19, but the pair will have the chance to take another test before the club flies out.
Ronald Araujo is included in the squad despite needing an operation on two broken hand bones on Friday, while Frenkie de Jong and Ansu Fati are also in the squad, despite neither player having been given the medical all-clear.
Barca plays Real Madrid in Riyadh on Wednesday night and the winner of that game will play the victor of Thursday's second semifinal between Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao.