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Messi could have stayed at Barcelona, says La Liga president

Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona
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Over a month after Lionel Messi bid Barcelona an emotional farewell, Javier Tebas has suggested the Argentine’s La Liga exit could have been avoided.

La Liga president Javier Tebas claims Lionel Messi’s departure from Barcelona last month was ‘not an economic decision’.

After his previous deal expired at the end of last season, Barcelona and Messi negotiated a new contract until 2026. They reached a verbal agreement, with the latter accepting a 50% pay cut.

The deal, however, had to be called off in the end. Barcelona chief Joan Laporta and Messi himself claimed the rigidity of La Liga’s Financial Fair Play rules forced a collapse in contract talks. The forward later joined Paris Saint-Germain on a lucrative two-year deal as a free agent.

“I discussed it with [Barcelona president Joan] Laporta personally, by phone, and with his board of directors. Solutions were sought, if the reason was economic. If it has been for another reason, I can no longer value it,” Tebas told SPORT.

“I think that next season, with the numbers that Barca release, we will see if Messi could really have stayed or not. And although I respect the decision of the club, you have to tell things as they are.

“It was not an economic decision. I know for sure.”

Messi is set to make his Champions League debut for PSG in Wednesday’s visit to Club Brugge in Group A, while Barcelona will face Bayern Munich on Tuesday for their Group E opener.