Messi told to take paycut to stay at Barcelona

Barcelona presidential candidate Toni Freixa has insisted Lionel Messi faces a pay cut from his lucrative contract should the wantaway superstar consider an extension.

The 33-year-old was prevented from leaving last summer after a fierce war of words with the club's hierarchy - but as it stands, Messi will be able to talk to interested parties in January and soon leave for free.

However, the prospect of Messi choosing to stay after a boardroom reshuffle has not yet been taken off the table, and Freixa already has his sights set firmly on the future.

The Nou Camp outfit are embroiled in a financial crisis due to their hefty wage expenses. The bill is in urgent need of being slashed by around £171million - and players may even have to be sold to balance the books. 

Messi is the club's highest earner, with his eye-watering terms worth around £500,000 per week. This equates to £26m per year.

Freixa told El Curubito

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.

The resignation of much-maligned former president Josep Bartomeu has opened up a power vacuum in the upper reaches of the LaLiga giants. 

The board of directors also stepped away ahead of a looming vote of confidence, and elections are set to be held early next year to fill Bartomeu's position. 

Freixa is one of the candidates vying to take over, and has also outlined his plans to sit down with Messi and discuss his future.

You don't have to conquer Messi or convince him with other things, he added.
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 talisman previously stressed his desire to walk away on a free transfer after growing disillusioned with the state of the club on and off the field.

Their financial precarious situation will do Barcelona no favours in their attempts to assuage Messi - and interim president Carles Tusquests admitted the wage bill is heavily impeding them.

He said:

The wage bill is the highest in Europe. It is 70 per cent of the budget.

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