We wanted Messi to play for us for free – Barcelona president, Laporta
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has spoken out again about Lionel Messi’s departure, adding that he had thought the captain would volunteer to play for the Catalan giants for free.
In the midst of their unparalleled financial troubles, the club could not afford to maintain hold of Messi, with the club racking up more than £1 billion in debt and posting a £409 million deficit last season.
Barcelona’s wage cost with six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi on the books would equal 110 percent of their income, according to the club president earlier this summer.
As a result, the Argentina international gave an emotional farewell press conference before joining Ligue 1 giants PSG on a two-year deal in the summer.
Laporta, 59, told Catalan radio station RAC1 through Mundo Deportivo that he had hoped the 34-year-old would agree to play for free at the last minute to extend his 21-year tenure, but that a player of his calibre couldn’t do so after PSG made a ‘very significant’ 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.’
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