Cash-strapped Barcelona would be unable to match the financial might of Paris Saint-Germain if the French giants came in with an offer for Lionel Messi, presidential candidate Agusti Benedito has warned.
Messi is free to talk to other clubs from January 1 ahead of the end of his current contract in the summer.
The Argentine star’s future at the Nou Camp remains uncertain after his failed attempts to walk away from the club at the end of last season.
Speculation has most heavily linked the 33-yer-old with a potential move in 2021 to cash-rich Premier League side Manchester City – who are backed by the vast wealth of their Abu Dhabi benefactors – or Qatari-owned French champions PSG.
Despite Barcelona being desperate to retain Messi’s services, the Catalan club would be unable to rival the kind of wages Messi would be offered by PSG, according to Benedito, who is a candidate at the presidential elections set for January 24.
“If we have to compete with any other team in Europe that has their eyes on Messi… if the issue is economic, we are not going to be able to,” Benedito told Radio MARCA.
“When I heard Neymar [say he wants to play with Messi], I said, ‘Holy sh*t, watch out for these guys’, because PSG belong to Qatar, who are organizing the World Cup, who have a dictatorship with a club of their own… If PSG wanted him, economically we would not be able to compete.
“I hope that the day will come when Messi will say that after 20 years at Barcelona, he wants to continue.”
Benedito is not the only Barcelona presidential candidate to warn that the club are facing tough financial restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, Emili Rousaud warned that Messi’s current gargantuan pay packet at Barcelona was “unsustainable” and would have to be reconsidered should the six-time Ballon d’Or winner ultimately opt to remain at the Nou Camp.
Benedito laid the blame for the current financial chaos firmly at the door of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
“It is incredible the destruction that the previous board has done at Barcelona. It is a matter of great urgency. I would say that they have executed a shock plan,” the 56-year-old said.
To add to the intrigue that Paris could be Messi’s next destination, earlier this week PSG were paired with Barcelona in the draw for the last 16 of the Champions League.
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The French club are also reported to have informed their stores to be ready for a surge in demand should they secure the signing of Messi, who has been at Barcelona since the age of 13.
However, reports elsewhere have claimed that Messi and his advisers have held no discussions – preliminary or otherwise – with potential suitors keen to lure him away from Barcelona at the end of the season.
On the pitch, Ronald Koeman’s team picked up an important win over La Liga leaders Real Sociedad this week, lifting them up to fifth in the table, six points off top spot.
They next host 12th-placed Valencia at the Nou Camp on Saturday.