Barcelona will keep Lionel Messi, may have to sell Neymar - Joan Laporta
Lionel Messi will remain at Barcelona but the club may be forced to sell Neymar, former Barcelona president Joan Laporta said.
Reports in Spain have said that Barcelona's wage-to-revenue/income ratio is too high and they will be forced to increase revenue to make January signings once their FIFA transfer ban is lifted.
Barcelona vice-president Susana Monje said last week that money will be available for new signings, with the club set to confirm record annual revenues of €608 million for 2014-15.
But Laporta said the club would never consider selling Messi.
"When I was the capo of the club I received many proposals from Inter [Milan] and other clubs to pay Messi's release clause but I always said that it was impossible. If I were Barca president, Messi would never leave Barca," Laporta told Radio Montecarlo in quotes picked up by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Reports out of Barcelona say that current president Josep María Bartomeu is negotiating contact renewals for both Messi and Neymar.
Laporta said he believes the Argentina international will stay at Camp Nou until retirement, but when questioned about Neymar said he thinks Bartomeu will be forced to sell him.
"Barcelona's current situation is not very good and to even out Bartomeu's accounts he must sell players or other assets," he said. "The best solution is to sell big players. It has been said that Manchester United has been interested but that is the result of current mismanagement."
Messi's contract was last renewed in 2014 and Bartomeu said he is certain that Messi will renew through 2020.
"Messi will retire here, I hope, after many years and I am basing this on recent comments from his dad, who said that he doesn't see his son playing for any other club," Bartomeu told 8TV. "So when the moment arrives, we will offer him an extension."
Last week, Bartomeu said that concerns raised by Neymar Sr. about his son extending his Barcelona contract while tax issues remained hanging over the pair would not stop a new deal being agreed during the 2015-16 campaign.
The Brazilian striker is currently tied to the Catalan club until June 2018, and the club have expressed confidence in further extending and increasing Neymar's deal in the near future, with the 23-year-old's recent legal trouble halting any immediate movement on a new accord.
"That is not on Barca's side," he said. "I believe he was talking about consulting with the tax authorities, as he now pays taxes in Spain.
"About Neymar's new contract, this is the season for it to happen. But of course we will try not to retransmit the negotiations and to work discreetly until we can announce the extension of his contract."