Lionel Messi

Allowing Messi to stay has destroyed Barcelona's finances, says former advisor

The Argentine's transfer saga ultimately led to his retention at Camp Nou, but at what cost?

7:46pm on Tuesday 6th October 2020
Paul Macdonald

Josep Maria Bartomeu's decision to convince Lionel Messi to remain at Barcelona has destroyed the club's economic situation, an advisor to former president Joan Laporta has claimed.

Xavier Sala-i-Martin, who was treasurer under Laporta's reign, spoke on Catalan radio station RAC-1 regarding the fallout of Barcelona's 2019/20 financial release, which stated that the club had made a £95m loss and that debt had skyrocketed above £800m.

Sala-i-Martin stated that some decisions that were set to be made, such as the overhaul and rebuild of Camp Nou, will likely have to be put on hold, and said that Bartomeu's decision to convince Messi, whose contract in total is worth £100m per year, to stay had impacted the club negatively on the balance sheet.

He said: "Messi wanted to leave and Bartomeu forcing Messi to stay has worsened the club's economy.

"He prioritised football, not the economy. A selfish Bartomeu would have let Messi go. [But] if he had let Messi go, his private life would not have been too easy at the future."


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Martin also stressed that the debt levels were the highest in the club's history and more sacrifices may need to be made on the salary side in order to return to a sense of stability.

He added: "Barca has the largest debt in history, £800m, the increase is 125% compared to last year. This debt makes what we all vote for, which is the reform of the stadium, because it required that the debt be eliminated, and not only has it not been eliminated, it has increased.

"The club is not in bankruptcy, it depends on the ability to pay. The way to overcome it is to earn more and spend less.

"It is recommended that it [the first team salary] should be below 60% and at this moment it is well above 70%. This is a very important part of income."

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