Barcelona President hoped Lionel Messi “would play for free”

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 08: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona faces the media during a press conference at Nou Camp on August 08, 2021 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

Barcelona is going through one of the worst periods in the club’s history. The misery surrounding the club was compounded during the summer when Lionel Messi left for Paris Saint Germain. However, Barcelona president Joan Laporta says he had hoped the player “would play for free.”

Barcelona could not register the 34-year-old’s new contract due to La Liga’s salary limits forcing Messi to go in August. The transfer occurred despite the Argentinian agreeing to a 50% salary cut. In an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1, Laporta admitted he thought things might go differently.

“There was disappointment on both sides. I hoped Messi would do a U-turn and he would say he would play for free.”

Joan Laporta

Lionel Messi won 10 La Liga titles, four Uefa Champions League’s, and scored 672 goals for the club he joined at just 13. However, even that was not enough to convince him to stay at the club and play for free.

“I would have liked that and I would have been all for it. It is my understanding La Liga would have accepted it. But we cannot ask a player of Messi’s stature to do this.”

Joan Laporta

Laporta made it clear once more that signing Messi to a new contract would have put the club “at risk.” This claim was further brought to light by the release of Barcelona’s financial records for the past year, and Barcelona confirmed they made a loss of 481 million during the last financial year. With future liabilities and debts of 1.35 billion.

The club could only sign players out of contract this summer, contributing to their difficult season. Although, Laporta was clear that manager Ronald Koeman has his full support.

“I asked him if he trusted the team and he said, ‘Of course I trust them. I need to get the injured players back’. He wants to continue at all costs and show this team is competitive.”

Joan Laporta

Barcelona currently sits ninth in La Liga and has lost their opening two Champions League games. They are missing the goals of Lionel Messi, who scored 38 in all competitions last season.

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