Messi leaves Barcelona: Leo has other offers, says Laporta

By Sports Desk August 06, 2021

Lionel Messi already had offers from other clubs after becoming a free agent and Barcelona president Joan Laporta is unwilling to offer "false hope" of a resolution.

Barca sensationally announced on Thursday their greatest ever player would not be returning to the club.

Messi's contract had expired at the end of last season, but a new deal was anticipated ahead of the new campaign, with an announcement reportedly imminent this week.

The tone of reports in Spain changed on Thursday, however, and Barca soon confirmed they were unable to do a deal due to "economic and structural obstacles" as any agreement could not fit within LaLiga's salary restrictions.

Laporta faced the media on Friday and, after an opening statement in which he blamed the developments on the dire financial situation left behind by previous president Josep Maria Bartomeu, he suggested there was no possibility of resurrecting talks with Messi.

"The decision is over," Laporta said. "It's done."

He explained: "I don't want to generate false hope. During the course of negotiations, we've known that the player has had other offers.

"And there was a time limit – both for us, because of LaLiga starting shortly, and for them as well, because he needs some time.

"As fair play continues to be rigid, the player also needs some time to see what he's going to do and evaluate his situation and look at other options.

The suggestion Messi could lower his demands was put to the president, who replied: "Those are all hypothetical situations. They're not real as of today.

"If I'm here today, it's not because of what may or may not happen. I wanted to be here with Leo today. It was the dream of every Cule, but we have to live in the real world.

"I like to dream but we have to live in the reality that this is what happens. I can imagine a lot of things, there are a lot of things I would like to happen, but right now that is not easy."

Asked where he wanted to see Messi play next, Laporta said: "I would like to see Leo Messi play at Barca, but whatever is done is up to him. You have to ask him. I will not answer that."

Pressed on Paris Saint-Germain's potential interest, he added: "I don't know that, but it is always said that they have options."

Barca's salary status has restricted the registration of all new players, which included Messi as a free agent.

But Laporta explained the club's close-season signings – Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, Emerson Royal and Memphis Depay – had agreed to favourable terms Barca could accommodate.

"People ask, 'Why can we sign Kun? Why can we sign Emerson? Why can we sign Memphis?' Because these are players that come to Barca accepting certain conditions in terms of salary," Laporta said. "We have to thank them for that.

"The arrival of one of these players isn't comparable to what it would have meant to formalise those agreements with Leo Messi in terms of fair play."

Asked if all four players could be registered, he added: "Regarding our calculations, yes. If we'd inscribed the deserved salary of Messi, that is obviously different to the salaries we are talking about now.

"I hope there will be no problems, because these players have made an effort."

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