Barcelona’s interim president, Carles Tusquets, has admitted that he “would have sold Lionel Messi in the summer”, with some big decisions facing those at Camp Nou.
A six-time Ballon d’Or winner looked to be heading for the exits when the 2019-20 campaign came to a close.
Having grown disillusioned with life in Catalunya on and off the field, Messi stunned the football world when stating his desire to move on.
Barca moved quickly to make the Argentine aware that a release clause in his contract was no longer valid, forcing the 33-year-old to reassess his options and agree to stay put.
His current terms are, however, only due to run until the summer of 2021 and no extension has been agreed as yet.
Messi will be free to speak with his many suitors from January, with Barca’s next round of presidential elections not due to take place until the 24th of that month.
It could that whoever takes the reins finds themselves overseeing the end of an iconic spell for a modern-day great, with free agency beckoning.
The likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are said to be already jostling for position at the front of a recruitment queue, with a remarkable agreement potentially in the offing.
Tusquets believes Barca should have avoided any threat of Messi walking away for nothing by bowing to his demands in the last window and sanctioning a big-money sale.
He has told RAC1: “Economically speaking, I would have sold Messi in the summer.
“It would have been desirable for the money you would’ve received and the money you would’ve saved. La Liga requires wage limits.”