Joan Laporta has confirmed Lionel Messi’s exit from Barcelona, explaining that Financial Fair Play regulations and the ‘disastrous’ financial situation he has inherited at the club made a deal impossible, even though the player himself always wanted to remain at Camp Nou.
The Barcelona president addressed reporters in a press conference on Friday morning, after the bombshell announcement that Lionel Messi will not sign a new contract as a Barcelona player, ending the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s tenure at the club he joined as a 13-year-old.
After Messi’s last contract expired at the end of the 2020/21 season, the superstar forward technically became a free agent. However, he was always expected to re-sign at Barcelona, with player and club agreeing terms on a contract that would include a drastic wage cut earlier this month.
Laporta spoke about how that plan fell apart with the deal simply too expensive under current La Liga and Financial Fair Play regulations, given the club’s debt (reportedly over €1bn).
Despite many predicting that this latest twist in the saga is one final ploy by Barça to get La Liga to cave, Laporta has now doubled down, insisting that the Messi era really is over.
Key Takeaways from Laporta’s press conference:
– Claims he received a ‘disastrous inheritance’ from his predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu and that Barcelona can no longer afford Messi.
– Calls the CVC La Liga deal a ‘mortgage’ on Barcelona’s future.
– Calls chance of Messi contract U-turn ‘false hope’ and speaks of need to ‘move on’ .
– Insists Messi always ‘wanted to stay at Barcelona’.
Explaining the decision to officially call time on Messi’s association with Barça, Laporta revealed in quotes from the Telegraph: “Unfortunately, we have received a disastrous inheritance. The wage bill represents 110% of the club’s income. We have no salary margin.
“La Liga’s rules require strict Financial Fair Play and we don’t have that margin. Losses are high, the debt is large and with the current sporting contracts in force we cannot afford to renew Messi.”
Laporta also confirmed the reports that Barça’s restrictions mean they are working on a ‘4 to 1’ salary rule, essentially meaning for every €1 they add to the wage bill, they must remove €4.
Following Messi’s departure, Barcelona’s wage bill is now down from 110% of income to 95%.
Laporta also addressed the proposed La Liga-CVC deal, which would’ve given Barcelona the money in the short-term to re-sign Messi.
He said: “To have this ‘Fair Play’, Barça had to be in favour of a contract [La Liga’s CVC deal] that was a mortgage for the club for half a century, for television rights.
“I am not willing to mortgage the rights of the club for anyone. We have an institution that is above all, even for the best player in the world. We will always be grateful to him.”
Despite everything, Laporta insisted that Messi and Barcelona’s desire was always to remain together, while confirming that the 34-year-old has other ‘proposals’ (reportedly from Paris Saint-Germain) on the table.
He said: “Messi wanted to stay at Barça. So did we. The will was clear. I am grateful to those who have negotiated both on the part of the club and Messi’s representatives. Different aspects had to be made compatible, the interests of both parties, to comply with the FFP. The player has other proposals. In a negotiation you have to stand up and you have to leave emotions aside and work with rigour and coolness.
“Messi leaves a great legacy. He has made history. He has been the club’s most successful player. He is a reference point for a splendid period at Barça. I hope we can surpass it. A new era is beginning and there will be a before and after Leo.”
He said: “I don’t like to repeat that we have received a disastrous inheritance, but the numbers speak for themselves. The reality is much worse than we imagined. Messi could not have behaved better. He has lent himself to making things easy.
“I’m not talking about blackmail from LaLiga. If the money from this investment fund came in, we would have 15% more salary, but it didn’t solve the problem either. From the beginning we have tried to sell some players but they have contracts that we cannot break unilaterally.”
Laporta said: “I don’t want to generate false hopes. It’s true that Messi has other proposals, and there was a time limit because LaLiga starts soon. He needs time if he has to go to another club.
“We wanted the post-Messi phase to start in two years, not now.
“We cannot keep prolonging the agony and making this last longer. We need to move on.”