Ahead of the Barcelona presidential election next month, candidate Emili Rousaud has said that Lionel Messi will leave the club if he doesn't accept a pay cut.
Speaking to ARA, a Catalan daily, he said the club would have to sit down with Messi and ask him to make a salary cut.
"Right now, with things as they are, it's unsustainable. If there's no agreement, then Messi will leave," he added.
Rousaud is in the running for the presidential election which takes place on 24 January after Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned in October.
Praising the player for what he has done for the club, the presidential candidate said Messi is responsible for the most brilliant chapter in the club's history. "We have to honour our legends, but the reality is what it is (because of the COVID-19 impact). I believe that things have to be said as they are. We can't fool our members. We'll make every effort to ensure he stays, but always with the interests of the club first," he added.
Since last season ended, Messi's future has remained an important topic at Barcelona after the Argentine handed in a transfer request reportedly because he was unhappy at the club.
The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is believed to be a subject of interest for the Premier League giants Manchester City, although he has also been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan.