Lionel Messi will have to take a significant wage cut if he wants to remain at Barcelona.
That’s according to presidential hopeful Toni Freixa, who reckons the 32-year-old’s current deal with the Catalan club is too great an expenditure.
Messi’s future in Catalunya has been up in the air ever since Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League quarter-finals.
The Argentina international hoped to depart the Nou Camp in the summer by exercising a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave on a free transfer.
The prospect of a long and arduous legal battle with his employers, however, forced the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to perform a U-turn.
Messi’s current contract is set to expire at the end of the season, although Barca are hopeful of extending his stay at the club.
But with the Spanish giants being £700million in debt and boasting a whopping £1billion-a-year wage bill, Freixa insists the club can’t continue to pay the Argentine’s astronomical wages.
“With Leo we will speak calmly, face-to-face with Barcelona’s best at the horizon,” Freixa, who is hoping to succeed Josep Maria Bartomeu as Barca president, told El Curubito.
1. Real Madrid – £1.286bn (£205m fall from 2019)
2. Barcelona – £1.280bn (£18.1m rise)
3. Manchester United – £1.190bn (£143m fall)
4. Liverpool – £1.143bn (£64.3m rise)
5. Manchester City – £1.018bn (£118m fall)
6. Bayern Munich – £957m (£233m fall)
7. Paris Saint-Germain – £876m (£48m rise)
8. Chelsea – £859m (£17m fall)
9. Tottenham Hotspur – £710m (£23.5m rise)
10. Arsenal – £651m (£150m fall)
“To him, as to all the players who have to renew or sign, we will make an offer that, of course, will not be feasible to match the terms that he has had until now.
“It’s evident, and the members cannot be deceived, that the proposal that will be presented to him will not be the same as the one he has had until now, because income has fallen significantly and it will be necessary to find another formula.
“You don’t have to conquer Messi or convince him with other things.
“You have to look him in the eye and talk with him to know what each party wants, what he wants and what Barcelona want. We think Messi still has a lot of football left to play.”
Despite Barca’s staggering debts, Freixa insists the club isn’t in a financial crisis.
He added: “There is no such thing as an apocalypse on the horizon that some have talked about and the world is not ending.
“[Barcelona] have 121 years of history and experience. We will move forward. [However, if the signings the other candidates promise] are to happen with Barcelona’s money, I don’t see it so clearly.
“It would be another thing if they pay from their own pockets.”
Barcelona will be back in action this afternoon, welcoming Real Betis to the Nou Camp.