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'We Wanted Him to Stay': Laporta Blames Bad Management By Previous Board For Messi's Barca Exit

Barcelona's Lionel Messi leaves the field at half time during the pre-season friendly soccer match between Barcelona and Gimnastic at the Johan Cruyff Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Sept.12, 2020.
© AP Photo / Joan Monfort

The statement follows the shock announcement that Messi will be leaving the club after nearly 20 years there. The statement posted on Barcelona's website read that the two sides were unable to sign a new contract "because of financial and structural obstacles".

Barcelona's President Joan Laporta says both the club and Lionel Messi wanted him to stay at Camp Nou as he blamed his predecessor for the Argentine superstar's departure. Speaking at a press conference for the first time since Thursday's bombshell announcement, Laporta revealed that Barcelona was unable to re-sign Messi as it had no margin in terms of salary conditions under the current rules set by the Spanish football league La Liga.

This move would have been financially risky for Barca, Laporta said.

He noted that La Liga rules should be more flexible, but admitted that the club has to abide by them. Adhering to the fair-play rules and signing Messi would have affected Barcelona's TV rights for 50 years, the president said before noting that Barcelona's leadership had "done the best for the interests" of the club.

"The club is above everyone and everything, even above the best player of the world. The club goes over players, coaches, and presidents. We will always thank [Leo] for everything he has done for us", said Laporta.

The club's president voiced hope that a new era will begin at Camp Nou after Messi's departure "as it was with other great players in the history of Barca". Laporta went as far as to suggest that Messi's exit will make the players more motivated because the bar was set "so high".

When asked whether there is still a chance that the Argentine could stay on, Laporta said he doesn't want to generate false hope.

We Are in Worse Shape Than We Previously Thought

Laporta's statement appears to confirm the fears many sports pundits have voiced in recent months about how the club, whose debt has ballooned to $1.5 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be able to continue paying its stars seven-figure sums and sign new contracts. Among the "new" players Barca wanted to sign was none other than Lionel Messi, whose contract expired at the end of June.

During the press conference Laporta said that the club is at the limit for salaries even without Messi. Re-signing the Argentine superstar meant that the club would have to spend more than it earns and as Laporta said "the club is above everything and everyone".

The Blaugrana president said that a recent audit showed Barcelona's finances are worse than the new board of directors thought. The finding made him realise that re-signing Messi would not be possible.

Laporta said that the striker had already received offers from other clubs. Reports say the Argentine will either join Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City - the only two clubs that would be able to afford Messi, who is considered by many to be the greatest player in the history of football.

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