Lionel Messi couldn’t stay at Barcelona, we were ‘in ruins’ – Laporta

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Xavi Hernandez gives Lionel Messi of Barcelona the trophy (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

A return to Barcelona one day for Lionel Messi is not out of the question, but president Joan Laporta does not regret letting him leave.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta reiterated keeping Lionel Messi at the club in 2021 was impossible because the club was “in ruins” financially.

Messi, who came through Barca’s academy, ended the 21-year association and highlighted the severity of the club’s economic problems.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the 2020-21 season and although he technically became a free agent, it was widely assumed that Barca would re-sign him once there was room in the budget.

But Barca – whose debts stood at €1.35bn in August 2021 – had their LaLiga salary cap cut by €280m ahead of the 2021-22 campaign as a result of their financial problems.

As such, even though a 50 percent wage cut was reportedly agreed, Barca still could not afford to sign Messi to a new contract, and Spanish labor law prohibits employers from cutting wages beyond 50 percent.

“I had to put Barca ahead of the best player in the history of football,” Laporta told Cadena SER.

“I couldn’t keep him in those moments of financial collapse. I think it was the best thing for the club.”

Of course, Messi continues to be linked with a return to Barca as his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires at the end of the season.

Similarly, reports suggest that Messi has already agreed an extension with PSG, which was simply delayed due to his participation in the World Cup and time off after it.

Laporta did not want to anger PSG – with whom Barca share a frosty relationship – by talking about Messi, although his regret that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner did not have a bigger shot could be interpreted by some as hinting at a potential second chance.

“I prefer not to talk about Leo because he is a PSG player because then [when I talked about him] there are rockets that come from everywhere,” he added. “We are concentrating on the players who are ours.

“Leo will always be a part of our emblem and I wish he had a different ending than he did.”

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