Lionel Messi's salary is too big for Barcelona due to their financial predicament, presidential candidate Emili Rousaud has said, adding that he wishes to keep the club's all-time top scorer on a reduced contract.
Messi, who sought an exit from Barca in the close season, has less than seven months remaining on his deal with the club where he has spent his entire career. He is free to negotiate with rival clubs in a different country from January.
Former Barca vice-president Rousaud, who resigned this year out of protest at how the club was being run by then chief Josep Maria Bartomeu, said Messi would accept a lower salary if he could be convinced the club will return to winning ways.
"In the club's current situation Messi's salary is not sustainable, so we'll have to reach an agreement with him. We will present an attractive project to him," Rousaud told Spanish newspaper AS on Tuesday.
"What matters most here is the sporting project. When Messi said he was leaving he didn't mention money. He has the highest salary in the world, no-one earns more than him, he doesn't want to leave because he earns too little.
"He wants to leave because he wants to win trophies. He referred to that recently when he said: "The Champions League is not within our reach." He wants a team full of talent."
Barca were ranked as the club with the biggest revenues in European football by the 2020 Deloitte Money League but the COVID-19 pandemic has obliterated their finances. Last week the club announced they were delaying salary payments to players.
Messi was named the top-earning footballer in the world by French newspaper L'Equipe earlier this year, claiming an estimated €8.2 million ($9.97m) per month from Barca.
Acting Barcelona president Carles Tusquets recently said selling Messi would have been better financially for the club.
Rousaud, one of many candidates running in the club's presidential election on Jan. 24, also said he wishes to name Barca's renovated Camp Nou stadium after Messi, a move he believes will help attract sponsors.
The election is being held two months earlier than planned after Bartomeu resigned in October.