If Messi issue is economic we can't compete, says Barca presidential candidate

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Barcelona could not compete financially with Paris Saint-Germain if the French champions approach Lionel Messi, presidential candidate Agusti Benedito has conceded.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi failed in an attempt to engineer a move away from Camp Nou in the close season but is due to become a free agent at the end of this campaign, meaning he is able to open talks with other clubs from next month.

Manchester City and Inter have been strongly linked with the Argentina international, but reports from Spain last week suggested PSG are the frontrunners for Messi's signature, although his father and agent Jorge has since labelled that speculation "false".

Neymar recently hinted he would love PSG to bring his former team-mate to the Parc des Princes, and Benedito - in the running to succeed Josep Maria Bartomeu in January's presidential election - acknowledges Barca have a huge battle on their hands.

PSG have huge backing from their Qatari owners and are determined to build a team that can dominate in Europe.

"When I heard Neymar [say he wants to play with Messi], I said, 'Holy s***, watch out for these guys'," Benedito told Marca.

"If PSG wanted him, economically we would not be able to compete. I hope that the day will come when Messi will say that after 20 years at Barcelona, he wants to continue."

Benedito added: "We would all like him to continue at Barcelona. He is the best player in the world. I heard Messi say he wanted to leave [earlier this year] and a decision like that is not made because he got up on the wrong side of bed.

"The first thing will be to change his opinion, because if we have to compete with other teams in Europe with their eyes on Messi... if the issue is economic, we are not going to be able to."

Barca's finances have been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with the Catalan giants recently announcing salary payments to their players had been delayed.

Fellow presidential candidate Emili Rousaud last week talked up Barca's chances of keeping hold of Messi on a reduced contract, but Benedito is concerned about the state of the club's finances.

"Barcelona are going through a very, very, very difficult economic and financial situation," he said.

Source Omnisport