Ronald Koeman has called on Barcelona to sack any employee that may have been responsible for leaking details of Lionel Messi’s contract to the press.
On Sunday, Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that Messi’s four-year contract, signed in 2017, was the most expensive ever awarded to an athlete, and stated it has “ruined” Barcelona by causing their current financial crisis.
El Mundo said the Argentine forward’s deal is worth €555m (£492m) and includes fixed incomes and extras that could reach nearly €138m (£122m) each year.
Barcelona have denied the leak came from the club’s board and have threatened legal action against El Mundo.
Messi put the controversy to one side and scored his 650th goal for Barcelona in their 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, after which Koeman said: “I don’t understand how anyone could link Messi to Barca’s ruin.
“He has spent years proving his quality and doing great things for this club, helping it win many important trophies.
“Whoever published this had bad intentions and wanted to cause Barca damage. But we have to be united and focused, we have to forget about whatever has been published.
“Without Leo we couldn’t aspire to win very much. We have known for a very long time that he is the best player in the world, he has done so much for this club and is decisive. We have to respect everything Messi has done.
“If this was someone from the club they cannot have a future here.”
A statement from Barcelona on Sunday read: “FC Barcelona categorically denies any responsibility for the publication of this document, and will take appropriate legal action against the newspaper El Mundo for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication.
“FC Barcelona expresses its absolute support for Lionel Messi, especially in the face of any attempt to discredit his image, and to damage his relationship with the entity where he has worked to become the best player in the world and in football history.”
Last week, El Mundo claimed Barcelona were “on the verge of bankruptcy” due to reported debts of €1.173billion (£1.036billion).
Barca have been without a president since Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned in October and are due to hold presidential elections on March 7.
In December, interim president Carlos Tusquets claimed the club should have sold Messi last summer when he wanted to leave.
Tusquets said: “Both in terms of what you save on the wage bill as well as the money you make, it would’ve been desirable.”
Messi attempted to leave Barca last summer by exercising a clause in his contract that he believed entitled him to exit on a free transfer.
However, the club claimed the clause had expired and Messi reluctantly backed down after Bartomeu insisted he could only leave if a buyer paid his €700m (£618m) release clause.