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Laporta reflects on ‘sad’ Messi exit & makes Griezmann admission

Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann
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The FC Barcelona president opened up on seeing Lionel Messi in a PSG jersey and on how Antoine Griezmann’s exit wouldn’t have changed anything.

Joan Laporta has admitted Barcelona still couldn’t have kept Lionel Messi if Antoine Griezmann had left the club sooner.

Despite reaching a verbal agreement with Messi for a new contract, nothing was ever signed. Barcelona’s precarious finances, along with La Liga’s salary cap, deemed the deal impossible. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner, therefore, joined Paris Saint-Germain instead on a free transfer this summer.

Laporta, on the other hand, has continued overseeing a series of cost-cutting exercises. The latest one saw Antoine Griezmann return to Atletico Madrid on an initial loan deal. With a debt of €1.35 billion, the Barcelona president has been busy offloading big earners and convincing others to accept pay cuts.

“There is objective data. Everyone can compare it,” Laporta told Esport3. “We were pressured that we would either sign the CVC loan [deal] or there is no fair play.

“There was no margin. There was a pre-agreement [with Messi] and we had shaken hands. There were several agreements and La Liga seemed to accept it, but then they said no without CVC. We didn’t think that the situation was going to improve and we put an end to it. Messi could not have stayed even with Griezmann’s [departure] and with the salary reduction of the captains. But it is important that we have lowered the salary cap because next year we can be more ambitious.”

The Blaugrana president also revealed he hasn’t spoken to Messi since his exit last month, nor did he like seeing him in a Paris Saint-Germain jersey.

Laporta added: “I think we were both sad because the situation was not what we wanted. I have not spoken with Messi since. I saw his debut with PSG and it was strange to see him at another team, rivals, I did not like seeing him in another shirt.”