As Lionel Messi bid Barcelona an emotional farewell, he offered his own version of events that caused to his contract talks to collapse.
Lionel Messi has confirmed an ‘issue with La Liga’ forced his contract talks with Barcelona to break down.
Messi spoke to the media on Sunday for the first time since Barcelona announced his departure last week. The 34-year-old cut an emotional, very sad, and lonely figure on stage as he bid farewell to the place he has called home since 2000.
After a standing ovation from those in attendance – family, friends, past and present Barcelona players, board members, and journalists – Messi was quizzed on several topics such as his future and how things came to this point.
The Argentine clarified that he was set to commit to a long-term contract at Barcelona until 2026, but the rigidity of La Liga’s Financial Fair Play rules forced the deal to be called off.
“I can’t speak for the club,” he said in the press conference at Camp Nou.
“[Barcelona president Joan] Laporta said they can’t due to La Liga. I can only say I did everything possible to stay here. I wanted to stay.
“Last year I didn’t, and I said that this year I wanted to, but I couldn’t. I thought it was all sorted, all agreed. Then at the last minute, it wasn’t possible due to an issue with La Liga. That’s what happened.”
50% salary reduction not enough
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner also confirmed that he agreed to halve his salary to seal a new contract and branded other reports that claimed he sought a 30% increase as a ‘lie’.
Messi continued: “The report that I asked for 30% more is a lie. It’s a lie. I offered to reduce my contract by 50%, and then they didn’t ask me for anything else.
“As the president said, the club has got a big debt, they can’t do it, it’s not possible [to stay].
“To keep drawing it out would make it more complicated. I need to focus on my career and what I need to do from now on.
“I did everything I could to stay, and it was not possible to stay.”