Johan Cruyff believes Barcelona were wrong to extend Lionel Messi's contract until 2016 and feels they did so because they feared the spending power of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
The Catalan giants tied their star player to a new long-term deal last month, making him the best paid player at the club. They also increased Messi's release clause to 250 million euros in a bid to put off attempts to prise the Argentina playmaker away from the Nou Camp
But, while the former Barca player and coach believes Messi deserves to be rewarded financially Cruyff is against the length of the deal.
''I'm not in favour of long contracts and that's what Barca signed with Messi,'' wrote Cruyff in his weekly column in El Periodico de Catalunya. ''I prefer renewing for three or four years. The player, whoever he is, needs a motivation to continue growing.
''And I, as a club, would always look to go ahead improving something year by year if he deserves it.''
Cruyff believes Barca were running scared of Perez and Madrid's millions. Perez returned to Madrid for his second spell as president in the summer and immediately started constructing a second team of galacticos. Reports even suggested he was considering an audacious bid for Messi and Cruyff believes that forced Barca's hand.
''In sport you can never be sure about anything,'' he continued. ''I know that an anti-Florentino clause applied, I know that they have put him on a salary level with the best in the world. ''But to extend it from now until 2016 seems excessive to me.
''The club did it for the old fear of in case the bogeyman came and took him away. But if he comes so what? There are many and yes they can come and they will continue to come.''