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'Barcelona would be financially better off without Messi' - Interim president Tusquets doubles down on exit talk

10:13 GMT 05/12/2020
Lionel Messi Barcelona 2020-21
The Argentine can leave at the end of the season, with the club's current interim president admitting he would have previously sold the player

Barcelona interim president Carles Tusquets has attempted to clear up comments regarding the future of Lionel Messi, stating that the Argentine's popularity alone pays his hefty salary, yet also doubling down on his assertion that the club would be more financially stable without him.

Tusquets made headlines earlier this week when he stated that he would have sold the Blaugrana captain during the off-season, had he been in charge at the time.

Messi attempted to force a move away from Camp Nou following a barren season for the club, having become disillusioned with its direction under then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The 33-year-old was unable to secure his release however, with Barca indicating that a clause in his contract allowing him to seek pastures new was no longer valid.

Even with Bartomeu now deposed at the top of the hierarchy at the Catalan outfit, Messi's future is still the topic of much debate, with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City viewed as likely destinations should he leave the club.

Barca boss Ronald Koeman was less than impressed with Tusquets' comments when asked about them on Friday, with the Dutchman attempting to draw a line under the debate ahead of a crunch game with Cadiz, as the Blaugrana look to reverse ailing fortunes in La Liga.

But Tusquets has endeavoured to tone down the severity of his original comments, stressing that his discussion about the striker's position was merely on the measure of economic impact.

"I didn't say that I would've sold Messi; I said that, financially, him leaving would have been good for the club," the 69-year-old 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 take these decisions.

"If it's necessary, I'll tell Koeman that he has misunderstood what I said. I was just doing the maths.

"What Messi generates for the club makes up for the cost [of his contract], but Barcelona aren't dependant on just one person."

Barca, who have two games in hand over league leaders Real Sociedad, are currently 10 points adrift of the summit and face an uphill battle to wrestle back their domestic crown this season.