Lionel Messi: Barcelona should have sold forward, says interim president Carlos Tusquets

Lionel Messi reluctantly decided to remain at Barcelona in the summer after now-former president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted the 33-year-old's €700m release clause had to be met in order for him to depart.

Lionel Messi
Image: Lionel Messi has scored seven goals for Barcelona this season

Barcelona should have sold Lionel Messi during the summer transfer window, says interim president Carlos Tusquets.

Messi, the cub's all-time leading goalscorer, wanted to exercise a clause in his contract which he said allowed him to leave for free.

But the Argentine reluctantly decided to stay after now-former president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted the 33-year-old's €700m release clause had to be met in order for him to depart.

"Economically speaking, I would've sold Messi in the summer window," Tusquets told RAC1 radio station.

"Both in terms of what you save on the wage bill as well as the money you make, it would've been desirable. But this is something the coaching staff have to consent to and that's not my place.

"La Liga are setting salary limits at the moment and this would've helped on that front."

Messi's contract at the Nou Camp expires at the end of this season, making him free to negotiate with other clubs from January.

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Manchester City were widely reported as potential suitors but head coach Pep Guardiola recently cooled talk of a possible reunion by insisting he wants the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to see out his career at Barca.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has expressed his desire to play with former team-mate Messi next season.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 06:  Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi,Neymar Jr and Luis Suarez pose with the trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final between Barcelona and Juventus at Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Neymar Jr; Lionel Messi; Luis Suarez; Javier Mascherano
Image: Messi and Neymar won the Champions League together with Barcelona in 2015

"What I want most of all is to play with Messi again, to be able to enjoy him once again on the pitch," Neymar told ESPN after PSG's 3-1 win at Manchester United on Wednesday night.

"He can play in my place, I have no problem with that. But I want to play with him next year, for sure. We have to do it next season."

Tusquets said such a scenario was only likely at the Ligue 1 club after the coronavirus pandemic led to Barcelona's finances being tightened following the coronavirus crisis.

"If he (Neymar) became available on a free transfer then maybe we could think about signing him," he said.

"Without making sales, there's no money for new signings unless the new president has incredibly deep pockets."

The La Liga club will hold elections for a new president on 24 January, with Victor Font the current frontrunner.

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