Barcelona could be the next AC Milan or Manchester United, says presidential candidate Victor Font

Messi Barcelona 2020
The Liga club could follow the fallen giants from Italy and England and be unable to compete for major European honours, unless changes are made

Barcelona could become "a new AC Milan or Manchester United" and be unable to compete for major European honours unless serious changes are made at the club, presidential candidate Victor Font has warned.

The Camp Nou club lost their La Liga title to Real Madrid on Thursday, and must now win the Champions League in order to avoid a trophyless season.

Font, who is running against incumbent president Josep Maria Bartomeu with elections set to take place in 2021, warned that Barca could follow other big European names in not being able to compete at the very highest level in modern football.

He said the impact of coronavirus, coupled with star players such as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique aging and nearing the end of their career peaks, as well as the finances needed to renovate their Camp Nou home, could all have serious ramifications for Barcelona in the future.

Font told the BBC: "Competition over the last decade has become more and more professional. You see in the Premier League with clubs well managed, and even states owning clubs to put in a lot of money at a time where the finance of the club and economic model is stretched to the limit.

"Unless we do what we are trying, Barca has the risk of becoming a new Milan or a Manchester United."

Milan, traditionally one of the world's most successful clubs with 18 Serie A titles and seven victories in the European Cup and Champions League, have recently struggled to even qualify for continental competitions amid years of financial insecurity, poor recruitment and changes of ownership and management.

They last won Serie A in 2011, their most recent Champions League title was in 2007, and they have not played in the top UEFA competition since 2014.

Manchester United meanwhile have not won the Premier League since the 2012-13 season, the last campaign with Sir Alex Ferguson in charge. Their most recent Champions League crown came in 2008.

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Part of Barcelona's problem is persuading star players like Messi to remain loyal to the club. The Argentina forward, whose contract expires in 2021, spoke of his displeasure at the team's performances this season after losing to Osasuna on Thursday night to hand the league title to rivals Real.

Font said of Messi: "He is unhappy and doubting what to do next. He is probably a bit frustrated as year after year he is not able to win, especially the Champions League. That's where the focus needs to be.

"We want to ensure he understands if we were to run the club from next summer onwards, we would put all the conditions to equip him in the best possible way so the last years of his career here he can still aspire to win a couple of Champions Leagues."