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Lionel Messi and his lucrative contract is not Barcelona’s “problem”, Marc Menchen - an expert in football finances - has told Goal, with the Liga giants warned that “economic policy” is causing their downfall.
Mismanagement on and off the field is considered to have contributed to those struggles, with considerable sums invested in big-money transfer flops, while the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has hit sporting institutions across the planet hard – even those with the deepest of pockets.
“Messi generates more money for the club than he receives in salary. Barcelona's problem is not Messi, but the club's economic policy in recent years,” Menchen, founder and director of ‘2Playbook’ has told Goal.
“It would be impossible to maintain the level of income from those contracts if Messi did not wear the Barca shirt.
“Messi generates a lot of money for Barca from friendly matches or for summer tours, since in the last four years up to 50 per centof the income obtained by Barca fromthis concept is linked to Messi playing those games.”
A leaked report published by El Mundo has revealed that the Argentine superstar has pulled in €555 million (£491m/$674m) from his current contract.
That four-year agreement was signed back in 2017 and will come to a close in the summer.
A six-time Ballon d’Or winner is said to earn €138m (£112m/$167m) a season, with the 33-year-old still due €45m (£40m/$55m) before his terms come to a close.
Speculation continues to rage regarding a possible extension for Messi, with the South American heading towards free agency as things stand.
Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City have been credited with interest in an all-time great and would welcome the opportunity to secure his signature if an exit door opens at Camp Nou.
Barcelona have big-money sponsorship deals in place with the likes of Nike, Rakuten and Beko.
Losing Messi could seriously damage their commercial appeal, meaning that less funding is brought into the club as they seek to manage their way through a financial crisis.
Seeing their talismanic club captain walk away as a free agent would also hit the Blaugrana hard, with no transfer fee generated by the most saleable asset on their books.
Answers to these problems need to be found over the coming weeks and months, with a new president set to be elected at some stage in the near future, and the efforts of Ronald Koeman’s side on the field can aid that cause – with Barca back into second spot in La Liga, into the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey and through to the last 16 of the Champions League.