KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Lionel Messi’s gold-encrusted contract has become a factor in the Barcelona presidential elections which have been rescheduled for March.

The club’s massive debts have engendered a blame game among the four candidates of whom former president Joan Laporta is clear favourite.

All the candidates are under pressure to explain how they will deal with the club’s financial problems with one obvious possible contribution being a parting of the ways with Messi who signed a four-year contract extension in November 2017 worth worth than €555,2378.

That works out at €138m per year.

* Paris Saint-Germain have suffered their first defeat under new coach Mauricio Pochettino, losing 3-2 to struggling Lorient *

The agreement signed by outgoing president Josep Maria Bartomeu include two major bonuses: one as a contract renewal sweetener worth €115m and a €77m loyalty bonus.

Barcelona have “categorically denied” that any official was responsible for the leak to the newspaper El Mundo. Bartomeu has also denied that he was the source.

Messi’s earnings expectations will be of interest to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, the two clubs with whom he was most closely linked when he sought to break his contract last year.