With the ousting of erstwhile Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, there is growing speculation that Lionel Messi might decide to stay on after all and finish out his career at the club. However, he may now have to consider accepting a pay cut if he wishes to stay on, as per presidential candidate Toni Freixa.
Speaking to El Curubito, Freixa said, "With Leo, we will speak calmly, face-to-face with Barcelona's best at the horizon. 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."
The Argentine legend's future at the club has come under wild speculation ever since the humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the 2019/20 Champions League quarter-finals. Messi had since been linked to clubs like Inter, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain with the hope of triggering a release clause in his contract but the Barca board shot down those hopes, forcing Messi to take legal action or stay on and finish out his existing contract, and it was the latter option that he eventually chose.
Barca are reportedly in over $921m in debt at present and as such, are considering measures to trim their $1.3bn wage bill to assuage their finances amid the pandemic.
As one of the men in the running for the club's presidency, Freixa also took a shot at some of his rivals for the position who he feels have made unrealistic promises, "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."
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Josep Lago / Cesar Manso