Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has denied leaking Lionel Messi's contract details and says the Argentina captain deserves his eye-watering salary.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo on Sunday reported that the deal Barca captain Messi signed in 2017 could earn him in excess of €555 million.
The leak of the mercurial forward's earnings came as it was revealed Barca's debts have reportedly risen above €1.1 billion, with the coronavirus pandemic having such a huge impact.
With much talk of who might have been responsible for passing on such confidential information, Bartomeu says he had nothing to do with it.
He told Esport3: "It's a very serious issue and it's totally illegal to leak professional contracts.
"Speaking on TV and making accusations is easy, but it's not a joke and this will end up in court."
Bartomeu added: "By the way, Leo deserves what he earns. Both for professional and commercial reasons. Without the pandemic, Barcelona could easily pay those figures."
La Liga president Javier Tebas also said it is unfair to put Barca's financial situation down to Messi's staggering contract, which expires at the end of this season.
He wrote on Twitter: "Barcelona's delicate financial situation [like other big clubs] is not Messi's fault but the devastating effect of COVID.
"Without the pandemic, the income generated by the best player in history would prop up that expenditure. The sensationalism that surrounds the matter is unfair."