• Wednesday, Jun 29, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

Barca president: We let Messi go to save the club

  • Published at 04:37 pm August 6th, 2021
Lionel Messi

The Barca chief also said that the financial situation that he had inherited from former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu was "far, far worse" than anticipated

FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta said on Friday the club had no choice but to part ways with Lionel Messi, who has been at Camp Nou for all of his playing career, as it could jeopardise the club's already precarious financial situation.

Laporta said the club and Messi had both wanted to sign a new contract, but salaries already represent 110% of the club's earnings, meaning it is spending much more than expected and such a move would be financially risky.

"The club is above everything - even above the best player in the world," Laporta told a news conference.

Barca's all-time top scorer and appearance maker technically ended his 21-year association with the club at the end of June and is currently a free agent after his previous contract expired.

Messi's last contract, signed in 2017, was the most lucrative in world sport according to a January report in newspaper El Mundo.

"To suddenly end like this when you thought he was already contracted again... It's really sad, really really sad," said 36-year-old student and Barca fan Jose Rivero earlier, standing on the street in the Catalan capital.

Also Read: The long goodbye: Barca say adios to Messi, the boy who signed on a napkin

Laporta said the club had lined up two new deals with Messi, firstly a two-year deal made payable over five, and then a separate five-year deal.

But he said that they were unable to get either deal done because of La Liga's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, and that he was not willing to agree to the league's proposed private equity investment from CVC solely in order to secure Messi's future.

"In order to meet FFP, Barca had to agree to an operation, essentially re-mortgaging the club, which would affect us for the next 50 years in terms of TV rights, and I had to make the decision.

"We cannot put the institution at greater risk."

Also Read: What next for Messi after Barca departure?

Laporta said that the coronavirus-impacted 2020-21 season's financial losses would be double what had been expected.

"We need to move on. We won't just try to meet FFP criteria by putting the club at risk for the next 50 years," he told reporters.

The Barca chief also said that the financial situation that he had inherited from former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu was "far, far worse" than anticipated.

"I said we'd do everything possible to keep Messi at Barca within the economic situation of club," he said.

"We reached agreement but couldn't formalise it, because of the club's economic situation, which means we can't register the player due to salary limits. I don't want to go on and on about the situation we inherited, and the awful decisions that were made in the past. We have gone from bad to worse."

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