Barcelona president, Joan Laporta spoke about Lionel Messi’s exit from the club, saying he had hoped that the captain would offer to play for the Catalan giants for free.
The club could not afford to keep hold of Messi amid their unprecedented financial woes, with the club racking up more than £1billion in debt and recording a £409million loss for last season.
Earlier in the summer, the club president explained that Barcelona’s wage bill with six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi on the books would equal 110 percent of their income.
As a result, the Argentina star bid an emotional farewell in a press conference before signing for the Ligue 1 giants, PSG in the summer on a two-year deal.
Speaking on Catalan radio station RAC1 via Mundo Deportivo, Laporta, 59, said he had hoped the 34-year-old would at the last minute agree to play for free and extend his 21-year stay, but he ultimately acknowledged a player ‘of his level’ could not do so after PSG presented a ‘very powerful’ offer.
‘With Messi, I do not get angry because I appreciate him. But when we see that he could not stay there is a certain disappointment on both sides. I know they had a huge desire to stay, but a lot of pressure because of the offer they had.
‘Everything indicates that he already had the offer from PSG. Everyone knew that he had a very powerful offer. We knew that from Messi’s side they had a very good offer.
‘I did hope that at the last minute Messi would say he would play for free. I would have liked that and he would have convinced me. I understand that the League would have accepted it. But we cannot ask that of a player of his level.
‘I thought it because I know him, he went up to the first team when I was there, I helped his family a lot. He knew that when our economic situation recovered he would be reciprocated.’