Jordi Alba felt Barcelona produced their best performance of 2020 in their 2-1 LaLiga victory over Real Sociedad.

The Catalans fell behind to a Willian Jose goal at Camp Nou on Tuesday after dominating the opening 25 minutes without managing a shot on target.

However, they responded well, Alba blasting home a fine equaliser before setting up Frenkie de Jong to make it 2-1 before half-time.

La Real improved after the break, restricting Barca to just 38.6 per cent possession after the hosts had enjoyed two-thirds of the ball in the first half, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen's only save of note came late on when he blocked an effort from Alexander Isak.

Barca, who have beaten Sociedad 23 times in a row in home league games, are now six points off the top of the table thanks to their first back-to-back league victories since October 1.

Alba felt the first half in particular was Barca's strongest showing in 2020, even if he modestly suggested there was an element of luck to his emphatic equaliser.

"It was the best game of the year," he told Movistar. "I'm really pleased with the team's attitude and fight. The motivation was big and we keep climbing [the table].

"They changed their way of playing. We knew it would be a difficult game against one of the best teams in LaLiga.

"I get more joy from giving assists. You score one in a hundred from those types of shots. I was lucky.

"We scored soon after they got their goal and the team played a great game. We saw a great Barca, who fought for every ball."

Barca's lead was under threat when Isak raced through on goal only for Pedri to make a crucial challenge, the teenager then colliding heavily with the post for his troubles.

It was a moment that summed up Barca's robustness under pressure in the second half as they inflicted just a second league defeat of the season on Imanol's side.

"We knew it was an important game and we went out to give everything," he said.

"We were missing a bit of assuredness in front of goal before and we have it now."

Barcelona recovered from 1-0 down to defeat Real Sociedad 2-1 on Wednesday and close to within six points of the LaLiga summit.

Willian Jose put the visitors in front at Camp Nou against the run of play to give them hope of ending an eight-match run without a league win over the Catalans.

A fine strike from Jordi Alba restored parity before Frenkie De Jong prodded in what proved to be the winner before half-time as Barca secured a result that will go some way towards easing pressure on head coach Ronald Koeman.

The loss was only Sociedad's second in the league this season and ensured they missed out on leapfrogging Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.

Barca were in control of the opening 25 minutes but failed to test Alex Remiro in the visiting goal from any of their first six shots.

They found themselves behind when Sociedad scored with their first effort on target of the match, Willian Jose converting Portu's cut-back following a corner.

Barca levelled in fine style just four minutes later, Alba pouncing on a loose ball and firing high past Remiro with his right foot.

Antoine Griezmann danced his way past the defence and the goalkeeper only to see the ball cannon back off the bar, and Martin Braithwaite fired over from Pedri's pass.

The pressure told before the break, Alba's low cross deflecting kindly for De Jong to finish, with VAR overturning the offside decision.

La Real started the second half much stronger but were lucky not to fall 3-1 down, Griezmann somehow turning the ball away from goal after sliding in to meet Alba's cross.

Alexander Isak had a great chance to level when bearing down on goal but the covering Pedri made a crucial tackle before colliding with the goal post for good measure, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen did brilliantly to deny the striker after palming a shot into his path late on.

What does it mean? Barca breathe life into title hopes

Barca have now equalled their longest winning run at home to Sociedad in LaLiga, this being their 23rd consecutive victory at Camp Nou.

The result also lifts them to within six points of leaders Atletico, La Real and Real Madrid, as this title race continues to look an enthralling one.

Koeman will likely be most pleased with the manner of his side's victory, though, given this was one of their best performances of the season.

Alba outstanding

This was a throwback to Jordi Alba at his best, the left-back scoring a brilliant goal, setting up De Jong for his and giving Griezmann what looked to be the easiest of finishes.

Only Messi (86 and 59) had more touches and completed passes than Alba (85 and 52), who created three opportunities from crosses and regained possession eight times.

Best-braid plans go to waste for Griezmann

Griezmann had some good moments in attack and was valuable covering at the back for Barca, clearing one promising free-kick from danger.

Fortune deserted him in front of goal, though. He hit the bar after a fine run and then implausibly failed to score with the goal gaping, his new hairdo apparently not bringing him any better luck.

What's next?

Barca host Valencia on Saturday, with Sociedad heading to Levante.

Barcelona would not attempt to match the offers that Lionel Messi may receive from rival clubs, presidential candidate Joan Laporta has declared. 

Laporta was previously president from 2003 to 2010, overseeing the early years of Messi's career at Camp Nou, and is now seeking a further term at the helm. 

The Catalan giants were plunged into a financial crisis by the coronavirus pandemic and it has meant pay levels have been closely examined, re-thought and restructured. 

Messi is the club's top earner, but as he approaches the end of his contract, which expires in 2021, there are doubts over whether he will renew. 

The club's all-time record scorer wanted to leave before the 2020-21 season and may again tell Barcelona he intends to depart, although Laporta dearly wants the Argentine forward to stay. 

Laporta says other clubs may have more money to tempt Messi, but they do not have the kinship with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner that would make a split so difficult to bear. 

"We will use all our skills to keep Messi with us," Laporta told Radio MARCA. 

"Leo is not only focused about money. It will be a good economic proposal, but we will not reach what other clubs can offer. 

"I have a very good relationship with Leo. He wants Barcelona. I am convinced that he is looking forward to a proposal from the new president. 

"It is going to be based mainly on a competitive squad that can win the Champions League. If I make this proposal, I will fulfil it; I am lucky to have Leo's credibility. 

"Now is not the time to talk about Messi, and for that I have to be president."

Inevitably, however, it is Messi's future which is dominating the elections, because of the clamour among supporters for him to re-sign. He has been linked with a host of teams, most recently Paris Saint-Germain. 

In January, Messi will be free to negotiate with other clubs. For the elections to fall in the same month is a savage twist, and means each candidate will be expected to have not only a stance on Messi's future, but a stance that appeals to club members and to Messi himself. 

It is far from the only matter for each candidate to address, yet it is an unavoidably seismic topic. 

As Laporta told the radio station, Cristiano Ronaldo's move from Real Madrid to Juventus was different because he had already played at Sporting CP and Manchester United, but Messi is a one-club player. 

"Leo's case is singular. He would be one of the few players like Pele who has only played for one team," Laporta said, setting aside Santos legend Pele's time at the New York Cosmos. 

Laporta's campaign took a theatrical turn on Tuesday when he unveiled a giant poster of himself next to Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu home. 

The poster features an image of Laporta and bears the caption: "Looking forward to seeing you again." 

It was a creative stunt that drew the global attention Laporta craved, and he explained it by saying: "Madrid is an electoral zone and we had to come. It was a nice move, from the point of view of good faith. It has a point of irony, it is nice." 

Is Lionel Messi set to swap Spain for France?

Paris Saint-Germain have been among the clubs linked with Messi.

And rumours suggest PSG believe they will land the Barcelona superstar.

 

TOP STORY – PSG POISED TO SIGN MESSI?

Paris Saint-Germain are preparing to announce the signing of Lionel Messi, according to FootballTransfers.

Messi, who is out of contract at the end of the season, tried to leave Barcelona at the start of 2020-21 but the six-time Ballon d'Or winner opted to remain at Camp Nou.

Now, Ligue 1 champions PSG are growing increasingly confident of luring Messi to Paris on a free transfer, having told their stores around the French capital to brace themselves for a high demand of shirt sales.

The Daily Star, however, claims Pep Guardiola's Manchester City remain optimistic of signing Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

- Premier League champions Liverpool are set to offer star defender Virgil van Dijk a new blockbuster five-year contract, reports Fabrizio Romano.

Bayern Munich are in pole position to sign RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano but the Bundesliga champions are still undecided on outlaying such a significant sum amid the coronavirus pandemic, says Sport Bild. Upamecano has been heavily linked with Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.

- According to Corriere della Sera, Inter and Milan are the main contenders to sign Atalanta star Papu Gomez. The captain and Atalanta head coach Gian Piero Gasperini have fallen out, leading to widespread reports Gomez will leave in January. Inter are the favourites to sign Gomez as they could reportedly offer Christian Eriksen in exchange. The likes of PSG, Lazio and Napoli have also emerged as possible destinations.

Hakan Calhanoglu is set to stay at Milan, reports Calciomercato. United have been linked with a move for the soon-to-be free agent.

- Romano says Sergio Ramos is likely to continue at Madrid beyond the 2020-21 season. Los Blancos captain Ramos is nearing the end of his contract, leading to links with the likes of PSG, Juventus and United.

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman insisted the LaLiga giants will never have a player like Lionel Messi as the superstar stands on the cusp of equalling Pele's record.

Messi is within one goal of matching Pele's one-club goals record ahead of Wednesday's showdown against leaders Real Sociedad.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has netted 642 goals for Barca across all competitions following his strike in last week's 1-0 victory over Levante.

On the looming record, Koeman told reporters of the 33-year-old attacker: "Well, [Messi's] stats are amazing. I don't think we'll ever have another player at this club who has given that much in terms of effectiveness.

"That's why he is the number one. He is a very important player, as we saw the other day [against Levante]. Our attack depends a lot on Leo.

"They are big stats… I don't know how many hat-tricks he has scored already. Once again, it is unbelievable what he has done for this club."

Messi has been involved in 14 goals in his 10 home LaLiga games against Sociedad (10 goals and four assists), including registering four goals and two assists in his past five such appearances against the club in the top flight.

Barca – eighth in the table and nine points off the pace – have won their past 22 LaLiga games on home soil against Sociedad.

Koeman's men could equal their longest ever winning run at home to Sociedad in the competition (23 between 1929 and 1961).

Zinedine Zidane hailed Karim Benzema after the striker helped Real Madrid past Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga on Tuesday.

Benzema scored a late brace as Madrid beat Athletic 3-1, moving them level on points with Real Sociedad and Atletico atop the table.

The Frenchman took his tally to 10 goals in all competitions this season – more than any other LaLiga player.

Zidane praised the striker, saying Benzema's ability to deliver even when having a quieter game was impressive.

"For me he is the best because without playing a great game [against Athletic] he has scored two goals," the Madrid head coach said, via AS.

"He always appears. They are the great players."

Toni Kroos had given Madrid the lead at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, where Athletic were reduced to 10 men in just the 13th minute following Raul Garcia's red card.

But Ander Capa drew the visitors level and Madrid struggled to create clear-cut chances before Benzema delivered late.

Benzema has been involved in 18 goals in 22 LaLiga games against Athletic, scoring 13 times and providing five assists.

Zidane admitted Madrid were below their best, feeling his side pushed too hard against 10 men.

"It is true that we suffered. When you play 11 against 10, if you interpret the game well you can have it easier, but it has been the other way around. We were too hasty," he said.

"When they lose a player, you say, 'I'm going to score the goal in 15 minutes'. And you had to be patient.

"After the fourth game in 10 days, there are three points and you have to be very happy."

Madrid will look to extend their four-match winning streak when they visit Eibar on Sunday.

Real Madrid continued their resurgent form with a 3-1 win over 10-man Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga on Tuesday.

Karim Benzema scored twice in the second half at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, lifting Madrid to a fourth straight victory in all competitions.

Zinedine Zidane's men joined Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid on 26 points atop the table, but they struggled for large parts at home to Athletic.

Madrid played more than 75 minutes against 10 men following Raul Garcia's red card, but Toni Kroos' fine opener was cancelled out by Ander Capa.

But Benzema haunted Athletic once more to continue Madrid's winning run.

Athletic had made a decent start before Garcia's aggression proved costly, the midfielder's third foul inside 13 minutes – this one on Kroos – leading to his second yellow card.

Madrid struggled to create much of note despite their numerical advantage, although they improved late in the half as Vinicius Junior drew a good save from Unai Simon from close range and Federico Valverde poked wide.

The opener arrived on the stroke of half-time through Kroos, who produced a superb first-time finish from 20 yards after a Vinicius pass.

Athletic responded and made the dream start to the second half thanks to Capa.

Starting a run in his own half, Capa exchanged passes with Oscar de Marcos before keeping his composure to tuck away an equaliser after his initial effort was parried by Thibaut Courtois.

Athletic had done superbly to keep a lacklustre Madrid, who lacked ideas, at bay until Benzema struck in the 74th minute.

Dani Carvajal delivered a wonderful cross, Benzema getting on the end of it to head in his fifth LaLiga goal of the season.

Athletic went close to a stunning late equaliser, but Courtois stepped up with a huge stop to deny Mikel Vesga, with Madrid going down the other end and Benzema sealing the points after a pass from Luka Modric.

Diego Simeone is confident any issues with Joao Felix and Luis Suarez will be addressed after the pair reacted badly to being substituted in Saturday's Madrid derby.

Neither Atletico Madrid forward played the full 90 minutes of the 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid, a result that ended a club-record 26-game unbeaten LaLiga run going back to last season.

Joao Felix was replaced on the hour mark, just before Jan Oblak's own goal took the game away from Atleti.

The Portugal forward failed to muster a shot or create a chance, making no touches of the ball in the Madrid penalty area.

Suarez was little better, seeing his only effort blocked and completing a meagre 10 passes before following his strike partner off the pitch with 17 minutes remaining.

The pair were each replaced by midfielders – Saul Niguez and Geoffrey Kondogbia – and made their frustration clear as they returned to the bench.

But speaking ahead of Wednesday's Copa del Rey trip to Cardassar, coach Simeone was not concerned by their dissatisfaction.

"We have been here for nine years and what we have to talk about will happen internally," he said. "The best way to resolve situations is by talking and obviously we talk."

Saul had Atleti's best attempt after replacing Joao Felix, seeing a close-range header well saved by Thibaut Courtois, but the Spain international is struggling this season.

He has yet to register a goal or assist, while his duel success rate is at a career-low 41.9 per cent and he is also averaging fewer recoveries per 90 minutes (5.1) than in any prior LaLiga season.

"He is not having his best moment," Simeone said. "I have no doubt that for us he is a very important player.

"He has competed since he joined the team as a young man. He has always been important and this year it will not be different.

"He is working to improve. He is strong; we will see the Saul we all know again."

The Copa game against Cardassar may provide opportunities for players such as Saul to rediscover some form.

"There are players who are waiting to have those minutes and each one will make the best use of it," Simeone said. "When Atletico Madrid play, they must be represented in the best possible way."

Joan Laporta's campaign to return as Barcelona's president took a theatrical turn on Tuesday when he unveiled a giant poster of himself next to Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium.  

Laporta posted two images of the poster, placed on a building under construction within view of the stadium of Barca's arch rivals, on his Twitter account with the caption "Hello Madrid".

The poster features an image of Laporta and bears the caption: "Looking forward to seeing you again."

After months of speculation, Laporta confirmed his bid to succeed Josep Maria Bartomeu and return as president of Barcelona in November. 

The 58-year-old held the post from 2003 to 2010, overseeing Barca's resurgence as LaLiga's top side and a challenger in Europe.

Barca won 12 trophies during Laporta's presidency, including four LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns, under coaches Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola.

Bartomeu and the board of directors resigned in October just days before a planned vote of no confidence in the president.

 

Ronald Koeman is anticipating a "beautiful and open" game against Real Sociedad, who he believes have enough quality to win LaLiga.

La Real are top of LaLiga having collected 26 points from their first 13 games – their highest tally at this stage of the season since they amassed 29 points early in the 2002/03 campaign and ultimately finished second.

Barca are nine points back in eighth after a difficult start, but they can take comfort from a wonderful record against the Basque side at Camp Nou.

Victory on Wednesday would be their 23rd consecutive triumph against Sociedad on home soil, equalling their longest winning run against them in LaLiga, achieved between 1929 and 1961.

Koeman praised the work of counterpart Imanol Alguacil and acknowledged his own Barca side – who squeezed past Levante 1-0 at the weekend – will have to be at their best to get anything out of the game.

"I think it will be an open game," Koeman told a media conference. "Last year it was open. They are two teams that want to have the ball and put pressure on. I expect an open and beautiful game."

Asked if La Real could win LaLiga, Koeman said: "At the moment, yes. It's a very good team. You can tell that they have been together for several seasons.

"I like how they play. I understand that we have to be very good, with confidence and with the ball to hurt them.

"It's down to the coach. He has a game system, he has very good players with the ball and the team's structure, wanting to play from behind and wanting to push, is good.

"They have many things that I like, but so do we. Their trajectory is not from just now, it comes from previous years. They are doing a great job."

Barca have now won their last three LaLiga games at home – their best run under Koeman – after claiming victory in just two of their previous six at Camp Nou in the competition.

While the Dutchman says the win over Levante gives his side some breathing space, he concedes their form this season has been far from acceptable.

"In general, we cannot be happy with our trajectory in the championship," Koeman added. "We have lost when we should not lose, but you have to see the team, how it works.

"The other day we got a very important result, in a very difficult game. We lacked things, but the attitude was good. Those three points give us peace of mind for tomorrow.

"Of course, I want the team to play better and get better results. We have had things go against us, like injuries to important people.

"There are always outside factors, but I think we have to be more consistent. We cannot train a lot because the calendar is very tight and affects freshness."

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi's father and agent Jorge has categorically denied meeting with Paris Saint-Germain officials.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner's future has been a hot topic of debate since trying to secure a move away from Camp Nou in the close season.

Barca blocked Messi's exit but he is due to become a free agent at the end of the campaign and has been strongly linked with the likes of Manchester City, Inter and PSG.

Spanish outlet El Chiringuito claimed on Monday that PSG are the frontrunners to sign the 33-year-old after holding talks with Jorge at the Qatari consulate in Barcelona last week.

Jorge hit out at similar suggestions in November and was quick to dismiss the latest reports in an Instagram post.

"False. Yet another invention," he posted over a screenshot of the transfer rumour. "I've been in Argentina since September. #Fakenews."

Argentina international Messi scored as Barcelona returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Levante in LaLiga on Sunday.

That took Messi to 449 goals in the Spanish top flight and he is one shy of becoming the first player to reach 450 with just one club in the top five European leagues.

However, he has yet to assist a goal and has scored just five times in 11 LaLiga outings this term - three of those from open play - at a rate of a goal every 189 minutes.

That compares to a goal every 115 minutes last season (25 in 33 games), on top of 21 assists - the most of any player in the division, Real Sociedad's Mikel Oyarzabal being next highest with 11.

Messi will be looking to improve on those figures when Barca host leaders Sociedad, having been involved in 14 goals in 10 home league meetings with Wednesday's opponents, including four goals and two assists in his last five such outings.

Christian Eriksen is attracting interest from Premier League clubs but the former Tottenham star reportedly only has eyes for Paris Saint-Germain.

The 28-year-old could be set to leave Inter in January following an underwhelming 12-month stint with the Serie A giants.

The Denmark international has started only 12 league matches since switching from London to Milan and a number of top European clubs are said to be circling.

TOP STORY – ERIKSEN KEEN ON PSG MOVE

Manchester United have an interest in recruiting Eriksen, who has fallen out of favour with Inter coach Antonio Conte, according to the Daily Star.

Arsenal were offered the service of the former Spurs playmaker but the Gunners have other priorities, according to the English newspaper.

Despite talk about a return to England, Eriksen is said to be planning to hold out for Ligue 1 champions PSG, who may be lining up a January swoop.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal want Stade Reims striker Boulaye Dia to solve their goalscoring issues, a report claims. Le10Sport reports the Senegal international has been identified as a Gunners target, but Everton, Marseille and Lyon are also said to be in the hunt.

- Mikel Arteta's side may also soon have another option in midfield. Spanish media outlet Marca is reporting that Atletico Madrid are planning on cutting Lucas Torreira's loan arrangement short in January after the Uruguayan failed to break into Diego Simeone's team.

Gareth Bale's future lies somewhere between Spurs and Real Madrid, according to Diario AS. The Welsh star plans to see out his contract in the Spanish capital next season if head coach Zinedine Zidane departs in the coming months. If the French coach stays, Bale may well be back in north London.

Zinedine Zidane acknowledged he is not giving Isco the opportunities he needs to display his talents amid continued speculation over the Spain international's Real Madrid future.

The attacking midfielder has become a peripheral figure under head coach Zidane and last month his agent and father Francisco Alarcon suggested he is ready to try a new league amid reports Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton are monitoring his situation.

Since the start of the 2018-19 season, Isco has started just 29 times in LaLiga, while he has been named among the starting XI only three times this campaign.

In those games, Isco has failed to score or provide an assist, but he has created four chances for team-mates and has a pass success rate of 87.56 per cent.

Zidane was reported to have told Isco he should seek pastures new in January but says he will remain a big player for Madrid this term.

"Isco is going to be an important player, it is true that he is not playing much and I am not giving him the opportunity to show the player that he is," he said when previewing Tuesday's clash against Athletic Bilbao.

"I feel sorry for my players and I will never forget what I have experienced with them.

"He has to work hard to get another chance, but what is being said [in the media] I can't respond because we don't control it."

Zidane's own future was said to be under threat after defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League left their chances of qualifying for the last 16 hanging in the balance.

But victory over Sevilla preceded 2-0 triumphs over Borussia Monchengladbach and rivals Atletico Madrid, to secure a place in the knockout stages of Europe's premier competition and reduce the deficit to Atleti in LaLiga.

Asked about the upturn in fortunes, Zidane said: "I don't aim to prove anything, I take advantage of every moment I'm here.

"I have fantastic players and there is nothing left but to keep working.

"It has been a very good week and we have to continue at that. The games are hard and there is no time to rest, just to continue in the same way.

"We are not going to change anything, we know that we have to always be the best, but there is an opponent and sometimes it is difficult to put the opponent in danger all the time.

"But we are good and we can show consistency. For us it has changed nothing."

Zidane also said veteran full-back Marcelo has to keep showing what he can do after falling out of favour to Ferland Mendy in recent weeks.

"It is true that he has played less, we know what he can give us," he said.

"It is true that Ferland has played very well, it is true that [Marcelo] has not played much lately. 

"He is training very well and has to continue what he is doing. It is true that he hasn't had a chance lately but it's not his fault, we'll see what happens later."

Barcelona may face competition from Paris Saint-Germain for Memphis Depay.

Depay, 26, has been heavily linked with a move to the LaLiga giants, where his former Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman is in charge.

But his impressive displays for Lyon have unsurprisingly caught the eye of their Ligue 1 rivals.

 

TOP STORY – PSG INTERESTED IN BARCELONA TARGET DEPAY

PSG are interested in Lyon star and Barcelona target Depay, according to Le Parisien.

The report says Depay is appreciated by PSG's players, particularly stars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Depay, who has scored six goals in 14 games for Lyon this season, is out of contract at the end of the campaign.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at PSG and they could seemingly also compete for the signature of another Lyon star. RMC Sport reports PSG are still interested in midfielder Houssem Aouar, who has been heavily linked to Arsenal.

- Isco's future looks to be away from Real Madrid. Marca claims the LaLiga giants are pushing the midfielder, who is contracted until 2022, out amid links to Arsenal and Everton.

- Everton are also linked to Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli. The Daily Star reports they are ready to make a loan move for Alli – who has struggled for game time this season – in January.

- After being thrashed by Stuttgart, Borussia Dortmund sacked coach Lucien Favre. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Bundesliga club already have an agreement in principle with Borussia Monchengladbach boss Marco Rose to take over ahead of 2021-22.

- Papu Gomez's Atalanta career appears to be over. Sky Sport reports the attacker, who has been at the club since 2014, could leave in January amid a tense relationship with coach Gian Piero Gasperini.

Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona if he does not accept a pay cut, according to presential candidate Emili Rousaud.

Messi's future remains an important topic at embattled LaLiga giants Barca after the superstar captain handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 campaign.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse Manchester City before opting to remain in Spain, though he has since been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

Rousaud, who is in the running for the presidential election which takes place on January 24 following Josep Maria Bartomeu's resignation in October, discussed Messi's future amid the coronavirus pandemic

"We'll have to sit down with Messi and ask him to make a salary cut,' Rousaud told ARA.

"Right now, with things as they are, it's unsustainable.

"We'll ask him to make the sacrifice. If there's no agreement, then Messi will leave."

Rousaud added: "Messi has written the most brilliant pages in the club's history. We have to honour our legends, but the reality is what it is.

"I believe that things have to be said as they are. We can't fool our members. We'll make every effort to ensure he stays, but always with the interests of the club first."

Messi scored as Ronald Koeman's Barcelona returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Levante in LaLiga on Sunday.

After losses to Juventus in the Champions League and Cadiz in LaLiga, Barca bounced back courtesy of Messi's 76th-minute winner to move within nine points of Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid.

Messi has been involved in 37 goals in his LaLiga career against Levante (22 goals and 15 assists), more than against any other team in the competition.

The 33-year-old has scored 449 goals in LaLiga and he is just one shy of becoming the first player to reach 450 with just one club in the top five European leagues.

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