The Blaugrana president is looking to move on from the disappointing summer departure of a club legend, with future plans being put in place
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has admitted that he clung to the hope that Lionel Messi would agree to “play for free” once it became clear that the Liga giants could not afford to put a lucrative contract extension in place.
A stunning summer saga at Camp Nou resulted in the six-time Ballon d’Or winner walking away from the only club side that he had represented to that point, with a move to Paris Saint-Germain made as a free agent.
Terms had been agreed on a new deal, but financial mismanagement in Catalunya and La Liga salary caps meant that no paperwork could be signed and Barca had to bid farewell to an all-time great as he packed his bags for France.
Discussing Messi’s exit with RAC1, Laporta said:
“With Messi I do not get angry because I appreciate him. I know he had a huge desire to stay, but also a lot of pressure because of the offer he had.
“Everything indicates that he already had the offer from PSG. Everyone knew that he had a very powerful offer. We knew from Messi that they had a very good offer.
“At no time do I think of going backwards. I think I’m doing the best for Barca. Nobody can put the institution at risk.
“I did hope that at the last minute Messi would say that 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.”