Barcelona president, Joan Laporta says he hoped Lionel Messi would remain at the club and “play for free”.
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Messi, 34, joined Paris St-Germain in August after Barcelona could not renew his deal because of La Liga’s salary limits.
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The Argentine, who won 10 league titles with the Catalan giants, had to leave despite agreeing a deal worth 50% of his previous contract.
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“There was disappointment on both sides,” Laporta said.
“I hoped Messi would do a U-turn and he would say he would play for free,” he added in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1.
“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.”
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Laporta reiterated that Messi signing a new deal would have put the club “at risk”.
Messi famously broke down in tears at a news conference as his departure was announced.
Laporta also backed under-pressure manager Ronald Koeman, with Barcelona down in ninth in the La Liga table.
“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.”