Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona if he does not accept a pay cut, according to presential candidate Emili Rousaud.
Messi’s future remains an important topic at embattled La Liga giants Barca after the superstar captain handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 campaign.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse Manchester City before opting to remain in Spain, though he has since been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.
Rousaud, who is in the running for the presidential election which takes place on January 24 following Josep Maria Bartomeu’s resignation in October, discussed Messi’s future amid the coronavirus pandemic
“We’ll have to sit down with Messi and ask him to make a salary cut,” Rousaud told ARA.
“Right now, with things as they are, it’s unsustainable.
“We’ll ask him to make the sacrifice. If there’s no agreement, then Messi will leave.”
Rousaud added: “Messi has written the most brilliant pages in the club’s history. We have to honour our legends, but the reality is what it is.
“I believe that things have to be said as they are. We can’t fool our members. We’ll make every effort to ensure he stays, but always with the interests of the club first.”
Messi scored as Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Levante in La Liga on Sunday.
After losses to Juventus in the Champions League and Cadiz in La Liga, Barca bounced back courtesy of Messi’s 76th-minute winner to move within nine points of competition leaders Real Sociedad but with two games in hand.
Barca will a chance to close the gap on Real Sociedad when the two teams meet in the league at Camp Nou on Wednesday evening.
Messi has been involved in 37 goals in his La Liga career against Levante (22 goals and 15 assists), more than against any other team in the competition.
The 33-year-old has scored 449 goals in La Liga and he is just one shy of becoming the first player to reach 450 with just one club in the top five European leagues.