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Laporta explains why Messi can’t stay at Barcelona

Joan Laporta, Lionel Messi
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FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta has explained why Lionel Messi won’t be returning to the club this summer.

The sorry state that Barcelona’s previous board left the club, lack of margin in finances, and the rigidity of La Liga’s FFP rules led to the departure of Lionel Messi.

Joan Laporta addressed the media on Friday morning after Barcelona announced Messi would not continue at Camp Nou on Thursday, bringing an end to a remarkable 21-year association.

Despite his previous deal expiring in June, Messi wished to stay in Catalonia. Last month, he agreed on a new five-year contract that included a 50% pay cut. Barcelona were confident the agreement was within La Liga’s salary cap rules, especially if some players moved on or accepted lowering their salaries. In the end, though, it wasn’t possible.

The club board informed Messi’s camp that a deal could not be done, and now Laporta has explained what happened.

“Barcelona are in a calamitous situation that’s down to the previous board of administrators,” said the club’s president as quoted by Sky Sports.

“Lionel wanted to stay at Barcelona and we wanted him to stay. The fact that he wanted to stay was the first step that was made, and it was a key factor.

“There were lots of aspects that needed to be negotiated as well. It needed to be compatible with fair play and it needed to be of a certain duration. He’s the best player in the world and had other offers of course. But there needs to come a moment when enough is said and you need to analyze it rigorously with a cold head and look at the numbers.

“In the Spanish La Liga, we have to abide by the rules. We think they could be more flexible, but that’s not an excuse. Leo deserves everything. He’s proven that he loves Barca and has his roots here. If you allow me a personal thought, I’m sad but I’m convinced that we’ve done the best for the interests of the club.”

Barcelona come before everyone and everything

Laporta began his press conference by pointing out that the ‘awful’ state the club was in when he returned in March left him with no ‘margin’ in terms of wages and staying within the boundaries of La Liga’s salary cap.

“The losses are a lot more elevated than we had expected and what we’re spending is a lot more than what we expected,” he admitted.

“The current contracts mean we have this salary mass of great magnitude and it allows us no margin. This is all tied to FFP, and as you know in La Liga this doesn’t follow the criteria of cash.

“That’s why we couldn’t fit in the first contract that we’d agreed to with Messi. In order to have that fair play, Barca had to agree to an operation that would affect the club for the next 50 years in terms of television rights and that has meant that when I have to make the decision, I can’t make one that would affect the club for this length of time.”

“The club is over 100 years old and it’s above everyone and everything. Even above the best player in the world. The club comes before players and presidents. But the point I must stress is that there are objective reasons regarding the economical situation of the club. An investment of that volume with the contract of Messi was risky.

“We wanted to assume that risk, all of us on the board of directors but when we realized the real financial situation of the club after the audit, we realized it would put the club at great risk.”

Is there any chance of Messi staying?

Attention now turns to where Messi will end up for the new season.

Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly made an approach already, while Manchester City could also re-enter the mix. That said, speculation persists suggesting the 34-year-old could yet remain at Camp Nou.

“I don’t want to generate false hope,” Laporta said on chances of Messi staying.

“During negotiations, we know the player has had other offers. There was a time limit.

“If fair play continues to be rigid, the player needs some time to see what he is going to do and look at other options.

“We have been at it for two months and have gone through different stages. The first agreement was two years. Then we agreed on a five-year contract.

“We were all thinking of two years and if he wanted more, we could sit and negotiate. We wanted the era of post-Messi to start in two years, but we have had to bring that forward.”