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Selling Lionel Messi Would Be 'Financially Desirable' For Barcelona, Interim President Says

FC Barcelona interim president Carles Tusquets has weighed in on the controversy surrounding Lionel Messi’s plans that he voiced in the summer to part ways with the club, writes Goal.

Tusquets, who took over after Josep Bartomeu and the board of directors resigned in late October in the wake of worsening finances, the club’s failure to win a trophy last season and a reported falling-out with Messi, has told Catalan radio station RAC1 that financially speaking, selling the Argentine would have been the wise move.

"Speaking from a financial standpoint, yes… But that is something that would have had to be absolutely agreed with the coaching staff. From an economic standpoint, it would have been desirable to sell Messi."

However, the remark didn’t go down well with Barca boss Ronald Koeman, when he was asked to comment on Friday.

"If there's anyone who needs to decide about his future, it's Leo himself. I don't care what's said outside the club. However, comments from inside the club don't help us have the calmness we need to do our job,” said Koeman.

Tusquets attempted to tone down his original comments about Barca’s all-time top scorer.

"I didn't say that I would've sold Messi; I said that, financially, him leaving would have been good for the club," he told Catalunya Radio.

"We'd be better off because we said that his salary is the highest in the world. Nothing could be truer. But I'm nobody, the decision is his and the managing board cannot make these decisions,” said Tusquets.

In summer, Messi, who plays as a forward and captains both Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team made the headlines when he asked to leave the only club he's ever known as a professional. The move came in the wake of the club's first trophy-less season since 2007-2008.

​At the time, Messi believed he could break with Barcelona for free despite having a year to run on his contract.
However, the wording in his deal evidently meant that the free-exit clause had expired in June, and Bartomeu signalled that Messi could not leave.

“As I said, I thought and was sure that I was free to leave, the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not… Now they cling to the fact that I did not say it before 10 June, when it turns out that on 10 June we were competing for La Liga in the middle of this awful coronavirus and this disease altered all the season," said Messi at the time.

Eventually the saga ended with the winner of a record six Ballon d'Or awards staying on with the club to avoid a court dispute.

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, FC Barcelona, like many clubs, has been struggling financially, announcing in early October $118 million in losses for last season. The first-team personnel have been taking pay cuts, and new signings have only been possible if there was a corresponding outgoing move, writes the outlet.

Messi's contract now expires at the end of this season, leaving him eligible to reach a pre-contract agreement with another club as soon as this January.

First workout of the day Lionel Messi

Amid the persisting rumors and speculation, one of the leading candidates to become Barcelona's next president, Joan Laporta, was cited as saying he would make keeping Messi at Barcelona a priority.

“I speak with him regularly, we have contact, but I haven't talked to him for a long time. To talk about his renewal, I need to have the authority of the presidency to make him a proposal I can fulfill,” Laporta said in a separate Catalan radio interview, adding:

“Messi makes a difference both financially and sporting-wise… Leo loves Barça and would help the club. We will make him imaginative proposals. I trust he will wait for a new president [to be installed] before he decides his future. Barça would survive [if he leaves], but it is better that he stays, although it will not be easy. It will not be a matter of money; it will be a matter of love.”

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