Lionel Messi is “not happy” at the failure to agree a new contract with Barcelona, according to Joan Laporta, who signalled the start of a “new era” for the club.
Messi had appeared set to agree fresh terms at Camp Nou after becoming a free agent at the end of last season.
But Barca announced on Thursday “economic and structural obstacles” had prevented them from retaining their greatest ever player, unable to fit his salary within LaLiga’s restrictions.
Speaking to the media on Friday, club president Laporta revealed he “made the decision that I had to say this was enough” on Wednesday before a “last conversation” with Messi’s father Jorge.
He explained: “What we can’t do is just keep prolonging the agony, making things longer.”
Asked what Messi had made of the development, Laporta replied: “Leo wanted to stay, so he’s not happy. We all wanted him to stay.
“For him, right now, it’s a situation in which he has to confront reality. It is a reality that can’t be changed.
“He knows that I wish him the best wherever he goes, him and his family. Barca is his home. He’s enlarged this club’s trophy list and we’ll always be thankful.”
Laporta has also spoken to the Barca squad, revealing he addressed them in person on Friday to outline a future without their talisman.
“It was very important to do that,” he said. “I had already talked to the captains by telephone.
“I thought it was very important, as we reached this point in negotiations with Leo. Everyone was waiting for Leo to go to the dressing room and start training.
“I had to tell them it’s not going to happen. We’re starting a new era and it has to be successful. They’re the protagonists of that.
From boy to goat. pic.twitter.com/G0JPpPi5WC
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 5, 2021
“They have to make us proud and they need to prove that we can win without players of the talent of Leo Messi, who’s the most talented player in the world.”
Laporta added: “I think this was an important moment. I saw the captains’ faces. I asked them to give extra from themselves.
“I want the team spirit to be high, very strong. The captains need to lead by example. They need to lead the process for this new era.
“We’re bringing in these young players who are proving to be very talented, and the new signings, we need to explain to them that Barca is a club of 122 years of history.
“We’ve gone through different moments, different eras. This is their opportunity now. From north to south, from east to west, they’ll have all the support from the club to be successful.”
On discussions with head coach Ronald Koeman, Laporta said: “I talked to Ronald. He’s a man of the club, a great professional.
“He has the ability to adapt quickly to new situations and he said that, obviously, we’re going to go for everything, we’re going to go at it.
“Not having a player like Messi will obviously be difficult to replace, but he’s motivated.
“He’s integrated in the club and he wants this new era to be splendid, to be successful. He and the players need to be protagonists in that.”