Barcelona’s interim president Carlos Tusquets has admitted that it would have made financial sense for the club to have cashed in on Lionel Messi during the 2020 transfer window.
Messi handed in a transfer request during the summer after Barcelona's turbulent season concluded with a humiliating 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.
The Argentinian was linked with a reunion with former manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, but was ultimately unable to leave Camp Nou due to the €700m release clause in his Barcelona contract.
The chaos has continued at Barcelona this season, with the Catalan giants winning just four of their opening nine La Liga matches. The increasingly unpopular Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned as president in October, and the club have been forced to agree wage cuts with the squad to deal with the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Economically speaking, I would’ve sold Messi in the summer window,” Tusquets - who is temporarily standing in as Barcelona's interim president before the election in January - told the Spanish RAC1 radio station (via Reuters).
“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 is Barcelona's top earner, pocketing €565,000-per-week. The club have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, given the impact Covid-19 has had on the tourism industry.
At the end of November, Barcelona players agreed to take a €122m salary reduction over the next three years to attempt to recover from the financial impact of the pandemic.
Messi has also been linked with a move to PSG - rumours which have been rubbished by his father - and Neymar revealed his desire to play with his former teammate again in France next season following his side's victory over Manchester United on Wednesday night.