Lionel Messi 'will have to take pay cut' if he agrees new Barcelona contract, says presidential candidate Freixa

LIONEL MESSI will need to take a pay cut if he extends his Barcelona contract, according to a presidential candidate.

The club captain, 33, came close to leaving in the summer after falling out with the board.

He performed a dramatic U-turn to honour his contract, which has one year left to run at the Nou Camp.

But Toni Freixa warned Messi must slash his wages if he is going to pen a new deal and stay beyond the summer.

He told El Curubito: "With Leo we will speak calmly, face to face with Barcelona's best interests at heart.

"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."

Barcelona have been hit hard by coronavirus and need to cut the wage bill by around £171million to help balance the books – while player sales are likely.

Stars already accepted a wage decrease, said to be as much as 70 per cent, in the spring amid the onset of the pandemic.

Gerard Pique, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Clement Lenglet and Frenkie de Jong all signed new deals on reduced wages last month.

And Freixa recognised Messi's mammoth £500,000-a-week basic wages – pocketing him £26m a year before all his sponsorship deals and bonuses – are unsustainable going forwards.

Messi was heavily linked with Manchester City and a reunion with Pep Guardiola.

Paris Saint-Germain may also make a swoop, with the six-time Ballon d'Or able to enter pre-contract negotiations in January.

But for Freixa and the other presidential candidates hoping to replace Josep Maria Bartomeu, among the top priorities is getting Messi to stay at Barcelona.

He added: "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."

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