Barcelona candidate Rousaud confident he can persuade Messi to stay
Barça presidential candidate Emili Rousaud has told Sport he believes he'll be able to persuade Lionel Messi, who is now in the final six months of his contract, to stay at the club.
Barcelona presidential candidate Emili Rousaud says Lionel Messi's wages are not sustainable but the superstar forward can be persuaded to stay with a sporting project that appeals to him.
Messi future at Barcelona up in the air as end of star's contract nears
The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was unsuccessful in his attempt to leave Camp Nou ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, but he is now free to discuss an end-of-season transfer with clubs after entering the final six months of his contract.
He was strongly tipped to reunite with former boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, while Inter and Paris Saint-Germain – now coached by fellow Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino – have also been linked.
Rousaud: Messi exit wish wasn't about money - it was "down to the lack of a sports project"
But while reiterating Messi will have to take a pay cut if he is to stay on at Barça beyond this season, Rousaud has outlined his plan to tempt the one-club man to put pen to paper on fresh terms.
"He did not want to leave the club for economic reasons. It was down to the lack of a sports project," Rousaud told Sport. "I will look him in the eye and say: 'Your salary is unsustainable, the club cannot pay you. But we are going to launch a project to surround you with young talent'.
Barcelona presidential candidate targets Haaland, Mbappé
Despite Barça's financial concerns in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Rousaud has previously outlined his intention to bring in prolific striker Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund if he succeeds Josep Maria Bartomeu in this month's elections.
Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappé is another possible target and Rousaud believes the prestige of playing for Barcelona could give the LaLiga giants an advantage in the transfer market.
"The market prices in which the players move now are not those of two years ago," he said. "In addition, Barça has something very important: a shirt that has a lot of weight in the world. But off course, we will not stretch the arm more than the sleeve.
"My advisor Josep Maria Minguella has spoken with [Haaland's agent] Mino Raiola to find out the conditions in which he would come and we have started talking. For a player like him, being in a club like ours would give him a great showcase worldwide."
Rousaud also aiming to re-sign Neymar from PSG
Rousaud has also vowed to attempt to bring Neymar back to Catalonia should he be elected, despite the Brazilian forward leaving Barça for PSG under a cloud that has since seen him embroiled in a court battle over an alleged breach of contract.
However, rather than condemning Neymar for leaving the club for a record 222-million-euro fee in 2017, Rousaud feels Barça only have themselves to blame for wasting the money on two players who have been blighted by injury problems.
"The money left by Neymar was invested in two players: [Philippe] Coutinho and [Ousmane] Dembélé, who have not given the expected sporting result," he said. "And since they didn't work, we signed others. And since we no longer have cash, we started to get into debt.
"They say that Neymar humiliated us. I respect that opinion, but it left us 222 million euros. If with that money we had signed Mbappé, maybe we wouldn't talk about Neymar anymore."
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