Lionel Messi should have been sold last summer by Barcelona, according to Rivaldo.
Messi pushed for a move away from Barca, unhappy with the way the club was being run and the lack of competitiveness on the field.
While the six-time Ballon d’Or winner was ultimately coerced to stay due to legal obligations, Barcelona also set a transfer fee that was far in excess of anything they were likely to get.
Now Messi’s contract is up in June, and Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are both linked with a swoop for the Argentine on a free transfer.
Rivaldo says that Barcelona, who find themselves in a deep financial hole, should have cashed in when they had the chance.
“The previous board made a mistake by not selling Lionel Messi when he still had a contract,” the 2002 World Cup winner told Sport. “They could have done something similar to what Real Madrid did with Cristiano Ronaldo, when they sold him to Juventus and made about €100m.
“Now Messi’s departure seems inevitable. It’s painful to see how such a talented player is going to leave Barcelona for free when the club is going through so many economic problems.”
Rivaldo has suggested that the accounts could be aided by sales, and he sees former Liverpool man Philippe Coutinho has one player who could depart.
“Coutinho has a good reputation in England, and in Spain things have not gone well for him, so it could be a good sale,” he said. “Although, they will not raise what Barcelona spent on him when they signed him from Liverpool.”
Although Coutinho is absent due to injury, Barcelona will have Messi raring to go for Sunday’s La Liga clash with Athletic Club.