BARCELONA

Emili Rousaud: "Leo Messi's salary is unsustainable"

The former blaugrana vice-president hopes that his experience in business will convince club members to vote for him. He wants to resign Neymar, and cut Messi's wages.

Emili Rousaud: "Leo Messi's salary is unsustainable"
JOAN M. BASCU DIARIO AS

Emili Rousaud is one of the candidates for the presidency at Barcelona. The former blaugrana vice-president hopes that his experience in business will convince club members to vote for him. He is promising to resign Neymar, at least one other big name player and reduce Messi's wages.

You were once on the board, how do you feel about the claims that Bartomeu was the worst president in Barça's history?

I've never said that.

Were you surprised that other people have said so?

Look, it will require time to judge his legacy. If we access it now, we are only really taking into account the most recent result, which was the disaster of all disasters. But in 2019 things were very different.

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At Anfield, we were very close to winning the treble. That was not so long ago and it didn't seem a difficult feat to achieve. We went to Anfield with a 3-0 lead, we had already won LaLiga and we were in the Copa del Rey final against Valencia. At the time, Bartomeu wasn't viewed as a bad president and he'd been in the post for five years. We are left with what happened recently, a horrible year with 'Barçagate', the whole episode with Xavi in Qatar, Ernesto's sacking, the 2-8 defeat to Bayern and Messi's attempt to leave. And to cap it all, we had the pandemic. But that wasn't Bartomeu's fault. Time will be the judge and he isn't and won't be the worst president but the end of his mandate was terrible and with a vote of no confidence.

Do you think that wasn't fair?

It's not a question of fairness. He didn't agree because the elections had been called but do you know why they won?

Why?

Club members couldn't express themselves at the stadium. If the public had been able to attend games, there would have been banners, hankie-waving, whistling - all of that and more and the only option open to club members with games being played behind closed doors was a vote of no confidence. The board didn't believe it would happen but the people were angry with no way of expressing themselves.

Looking to the future, in your presidential proposal programme, you have some of the people who are closest to Messi to convince him to stay. Who are they?

Minguella. He was the one who brought Leo to the club. He went over to Argentina and waited until six o'clock in the morning for his father to leave the factory where he worked so he could talk to him. He has a very good relationship with all of Messi's close circle. That means that we will have a good source of communication, I'm ot saying that Messi will do whatever Minguella says. There might be an agreement or there might not.

Messi continuing is an economic issue or a sporting one?

What matters here is the sport project. When Messi said he was leaving, he didn't say it was to do with money. He is the highest-paid footballer in the world, no one earns more than he does. He didn't want to leave because he doesn't earn enough, he wanted to leave because he wants to win trophies. He said so at the time: "we aren't going to win anything". He wants to play for a team where there is talent.

And what about the economic side?

Obviously, with the actual situation at the club Messi's salary cannot be sustained. It's unsustainable. An agreement would need to be reached. The project which we will present to him is an attractive one.

You have talked about naming the stadium after Messi, would that not go against the naming rights option?

On the contrary, ask any brand in the world if they would like to be associated with Messi. In general, we tend to not give our legends a good send-off and right now we have the biggest of them all. Having said that, it would need to be approved by the club members, we would need to consult them and find out what Messi wants.

Whether you win or not, how do you see Barça on 30 June?

A lot of things are going to change and it is important that club members choose with their head rather than with their hearts. Our project involves rebuilding the team. Our philosophy is to rebuild the team in order to boost the club's finances from that. To do that, we will bring in one of the best technical secretaries in the world and sign two superstarswho can adapt to the team's style of play and the young talent we already have at the club.

Which superstars do you have in mind?

We have been in contact with Neymar's people and he made comments which someone interpreted as meaning he wants Messi to join him in Paris - what Neymar was saying is that he wants to come back to Barcelona - like he said in the summer of 2019. Right now, we cannot pay his transfer fee so it will be at the end of his contract.