Lionel Messi’s colossal wages at Barcelona are “unsustainable” and would have to be reined in should he remain at the Nou Camp, presidential candidate Emili Rousaud has said.
Reports differ on just how Messi pockets from his current deal with the Catalans, although the Argentine ace topped the Forbes listings for the world’s highest-paid footballers in 2020, which put his salary at a staggering $92 million as part of overall annual earnings of $126 million.
In times when the coronavirus pandemic has wrought havoc in the financial departments of clubs around the world, Rousaud said that Messi’s existing deal was unrealistic and would have to be reassessed should the 33-year-old remain at the club.
Back in March, Messi and his teammates agreed to a 70 percent wage cut during the pandemic to help ease the burden on the Barcelona books.
“Obviously, with the actual situation at the club Messi’s salary cannot be sustained,” said Rousaud, who is a former Blaugrana vice-president and is running for the main job in the presidential elections set for January 24.
“It’s unsustainable. An agreement would need to be reached. The project which we will present to him is an attractive one.”
Whether Messi stays around long enough for talks to even get started on a new contract deal is an entirely different matter however, after the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s aborted attempt to leave the club last summer.
Messi’s contract is up at the end of the season, and he will be free to talk to potential suitors from January.
Rousaud claimed that money would not be a motivator in Messi’s decision to stay or leave, and that he was more concerned about winning titles.
“What matters here is the sport project. When Messi said he was leaving, he didn’t say it was to do with money. He is the highest-paid footballer in the world, no one earns more than he does,” Rousaud told AS.com.
“He didn’t want to leave because he doesn’t earn enough, he wanted to leave because he wants to win trophies. He said so at the time: ‘we aren’t going to win anything’. He wants to play for a team where there is talent.”
Rather than kick on under new manager Ronald Koeman, Barcelona have continued their struggles from last season.
They are down in eighth spot in La Liga, nine points off surprise leaders Real Sociedad. They were also pipped to top spot by Juventus in their Champions League group after suffering a final-day 3-0 defeat to the Italians at the Nou Camp.
Monday’s draw for the Champions League last 16 pitted Barca against Paris Saint-Germain and former Nou Camp star Neymar – a player whom Rousaud claimed he would tempt back to the club.
“We have been in contact with Neymar’s people and he made comments which someone interpreted as meaning he wants Messi to join him in Paris – what Neymar was saying is that he wants to come back to Barcelona – like he said in the summer of 2019. Right now, we cannot pay his transfer fee so it will be at the end of his contract,” the presidential candidate said.
However, rumors have resurfaced that Messi could be reunited with Neymar in very different surroundings, with PSG said to be keen on luring the Argentine to the French capital.
Football reporter Robin Bairner claimed on Tuesday that PSG had told their club stores to be braced for a signing announcement so that they could cope with the inevitable surge in demand for Messi-themed merchandise which would follow a transfer.
Elsewhere, however, Goal.com reported that Messi and his entourage have not yet held any talks – preliminary or otherwise – with parties potentially interested in securing his services for next season.