After FC Barcelona announced debt of more than £800 million recently, it has been claimed the club's finances have been ruined by Lionel Messi's continued stay at the Camp Nou.
While the Argentine remaining at the Catalan club has helped the team on the field, there was a sense that the Blaugrana would benefit from not having to pay his mammoth salary if he had left.
Barcelona recently released their financial recordings for the 2019/20 campaign, which showed that the club's loss of £95 million (R2 billion) saw their debt rise to more than £800 million (R17 billion).
Former treasurer Xavier Sala-i-Martin, who worked for the LaLiga giants under then-club president Joan Laporta, believes that Messi staying at the Camp Nou has caused the Catalans major economic strain.
"Messi wanted to leave and (current Barca president Josep Maria) Bartomeu forcing Messi to stay has worsened the club's economy," he told RAC1.
"He prioritised football, not the economy. A selfish Bartomeu would have let Messi go.
"If he had let Messi go, his private life would not have been too easy at the future."
Click through the gallery below to see where Messi ranks among the best-paid players at Barcelona!