Barcelona acting president Carles Tusquets said Thursday the club could have improved its financial outlook by allowing a Lionel Messi transfer over the summer.
Messi requested the opportunity to seek a free transfer following the 2019-20 season, but a dispute about whether a clause allowing it could be triggered based on the delayed finished to the term because of the coronavirus pandemic led him to remain at Camp Nou.
"And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club," Messi told Goal's Ruben Uria in September. "Now I am going to continue in the club because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the €700 million clause, and that this is impossible."
Tusquets explained on Catalan radio station RAC1 (h/t ESPN's Adriana Garcia) it wasn't the best financial move by Barca, but he noted there are other factors in play with a superstar player.
"Speaking from a financial standpoint, yes [Messi could have been released in the summer]. But that is something that would have had to have been absolutely agreed with the coaching staff," he said. "From an economic standpoint, it would have been desirable to sell Messi."
Tusquets, who confirmed Barcelona would "consider" a Messi transfer moving forward, said the pandemic has left the club in a "worrying" financial state.
"It's dreadful, but there's hope. Once the stadium reopens, everything will change," he said.
Messi, a six-time Ballon d'Or winner, has continued to play at an elite level for the Blaugrana after the failed transfer effort. He's scored four goals in nine La Liga matches and tallied three goals and two assists in three Champions League appearances so far this season.
Barcelona is back in action Saturday when it visits Estadio Ramon de Carranza to face Cadiz in league play.