Barcelona president Joan Laporta has revealed that he hoped that Lionel Messi would agree to play for free after their financial troubles came to light, despite La Liga rules.
The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was forced out of his boyhood club this summer because they couldn't offer him a new contract despite a large reduction on his previous package.
While some did question why Messi couldn't offer to play for nothing when seeing his emotion at the forced move, rules in Spain state that new contracts have to be at least 50% of the previous agreement.
However, Laporta thinks that La Liga bosses would've made an exception to keep their prized asset from moving to France, as he ended up doing on a two-year deal.
"There came a time when both parties saw that it would not be possible. There was disappointment on both sides," Laporta told radio station RAC1.
"He wanted to stay but they also had a lot of pressure because of the offer they had. They knew if he didn't stay, he would go to PSG."
PSG had the funds to offer Messi a bumper deal despite their already hectic summer which included the arrivals of Georginio Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos and Gianluigi Donnarumma.
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Laporta continued: "I hoped Messi would do a u-turn and he would say he would 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."
Messi played 17 full seasons for Barcelona between 2004 and 2021, scoring 672 goals across 778 matches while winning 10 league titles and four Champions Leagues.
Messi said at his farewell press conference: “No doubt, this is the hardest moment.
"We had hurtful defeats but football gives you a chance to avenge that. But there is no turning point to this.” I feel very sad now as I have to leave a club that I love. I did not expect this.
"I always told the truth. Last year I wanted to leave, this year I did not want to leave.”
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