Joan Laporta wanted Messi to play for free
In the midst of their unparalleled financial troubles, the club could not afford to maintain hold of Messi, with the club racking up more than £1 billion in debt and posting a £409 million deficit last season.
Barcelona’s wage cost with six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi on the books would equal 110 percent of their income, according to the club president earlier this summer.
As a result, the Argentina international gave an emotional farewell press conference before joining Ligue 1 giants PSG on a two-year deal in the summer.
Laporta, 59, told Catalan radio station RAC1 through Mundo Deportivo that he hoped the 34-year-old would agree to play for free at the last minute to extend his 21-year stay, but that a player of his caliber couldn’t do so after PSG made a’very significant’ offer.
‘I don’t get irritated with Messi because I admire him.’ However, both sides are disappointed when we learn that he was unable to stay. I’m sure they had a strong desire to stay, but they were under a lot of pressure because of the offer they had received.
‘Everything points to him already having a PSG offer.’ Everyone was aware that he was making a significant offer. We knew they had a really nice offer from Messi’s side.
‘I was hoping Messi would say he would play for free at the final minute.’ That would have appealed to me, and he would have persuaded me. The League, I believe, would have accepted it. However, we cannot expect that of a player of his caliber.
‘I assumed it because I know him; he was promoted to the first team while I was there, and I was a big assistance to his family.’ He was confident that when our economic condition improved, he would be rewarded.’