Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta has come out and defended Lionel Messi after the contract he signed in 2017 came to light by El Mundo on Saturday night.
The report revealed that Messi could earn up to 555,237,619 euros over the course of a four-season period, yet COPE have also reported that the Argentine is still owed 63.5 million euros of this season's current salary.
"It's bad news because it's disrespectful, and because there is a mismanagement at the club it's easier for these things to happen," Laporta said of El Mundo's story.
"Barcelona's situation is not caused by Leo's contract. Messi generates more income than he earns. We have done a study and he generates around a third of Barcelona's total income."
Laporta pointed to the way in which Messi has helped Barcelona win on the pitch and this, in turn, has helped make them more marketable off it.
"From 2004 to 2019 we have won 35 trophies and [Real] Madrid 22, and this, in large part, is thanks to Leo Messi," he explained.
"Without him, we wouldn't have won so much. There are nine sportsmen in the world who earn more money in relation to the total income of a club.
"Leo accounts for a total of 8.2 percent of the club's expenditure. All the sponsors demand to have Leo."
What's clear is that the potential Barcelona president wants Messi to stay.
"I will do my best to keep him," Laporta confirmed.
"I have indications that he is fine at Barcelona; he wants to stay and he needs to trust in a sporting project."
Source: Marca / Cristina Navarro