Ronald Koeman proclaimed Lionel Messi to be the "best player in the world" after it was confirmed the Barcelona legend will be leaving the club.

Messi enjoyed an outstanding career at Camp Nou, scoring 672 times in 778 appearances, but his time with the LaLiga giants ended abruptly this week due to Barca's dire financial situation.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was expected to sign a new contract, having become a free agent on July 1, before Thursday's announcement shocked the football world.

Koeman, who managed the forward during the 2020-21 campaign, joined a host of football's big names in paying tribute to Messi.

"Still hard to understand that you will not play for [Barcelona] anymore," the head coach wrote on Instagram. "Thanks for everything you have done for our club. I really enjoyed the full season we worked together.

"I am impressed with your work ethic and desire to win. It makes you the best player in the world. For now, I wish you and your family the best!"

With Messi expected to move to Paris Saint-Germain, Koeman must prepare for life without the four-time Champions League winner.

Memphis Depay and Antoine Griezmann will have incredibly large shoes to fill in the 2021-22 campaign, while Barca players past and present used social media to praise their former team-mate.

Gerard Pique, who won the treble with Messi in his first season back at the Catalan club, posted on Instagram that "nothing will ever be the same again" following the end of an era.

"Now you are leaving, but I know that one day you will come back," the centre-back continued. "There are pending things to do. Have fun, enjoy wherever you go and keep winning as only you know how to do. Here we will miss you. I love you Leo."

Luis Suarez, formerly part of the formidable trio with Messi and Neymar, pipped Barca to the title with Atletico Madrid last term but he too revealed his admiration for the "best player ever".

"I will always be grateful for how you received me since I arrived because of what a great human being you are," Suarez wrote.

"Proud to have shared thousands of wonderful moments at [Barcelona] and to be lucky to have played with you. I sincerely hope that what happens in the future is the best for you and your family. I love you so much."

Despite only playing for two campaigns with Messi, Barca youngster Ansu Fati used his Instagram account to say farewell to his captain.

"All the boys who come to the Masia dream of being able to play with you, I feel lucky to have fulfilled it," Fati posted. "I wanted to thank you these two years for your gestures of affection towards me and for everything I learned.

"[Messi] my family and I will always be eternally grateful, I wish you and yours all the best."

There were plenty of questions for Joan Laporta as he sought to explain Lionel Messi's Barcelona exit on Friday.

The morning after the night before, the Blaugrana president faced the media to give the club's stance on the failed contract talks that mean their talisman is heading elsewhere.

Laporta spoke for an hour and 20 minutes and covered a wide range of topics relating to Messi, Barca’s finances and the restrictions in place in LaLiga.

Stats Perform brings you 10 key quotes from an exhaustive news conference...

'The decision is over'

It was a blunt answer. Laporta had not come to the news conference to give Barca fans what he described as "false hope".

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

'Leo is not happy'

Nobody involved with Barca is happy with the outcome – including Messi himself.

"Leo wanted to stay, so he's not happy. We all wanted him to stay," Laporta explained. "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."

'He tried to make it easy for us'

No blame was laid at the forward's door, with Laporta revealing two separate agreements between player and club – neither of which could work within LaLiga's regulations.

"We've been at it for two months and we've gone through different stages," Laporta revealed. "The first agreement was two years that would be paid in five years. Leo was in agreement with that. He was always present in negotiations and tried to make it easy for us. The first offer was two years of salary to be paid in five, and we thought that would be allowed in the regulations of fair play, but the criteria of cash came into play. It's not allowed here where it is in other countries. It's all part of a process.

"LaLiga also had its pressure because there are other clubs that want regulations and rules to be abided by.

"Then we agreed to a five-year contract, which was also accepted by Leo, even though we were all thinking of two more years. We all agreed: two years and, if he wanted more, we could sit and talk about it. We wanted the era post-Messi, the one we start today, to start in two years. Taking into account the circumstances, we've had to bring that forward. We all wanted to enjoy his talent, his magic playing at Barca, but at the moment it can't be. When we did the five-year contract that we thought would be allowed – and I had insinuated that this would be allowed – a technical analysis by the LaLiga commission found that this contract wouldn't be valid within those regulations."

'I said we would do everything'

Laporta had based much of his election campaign around the idea of keeping Messi at the club, but he did not regret this approach.

"I said this several times: I said that we would do everything possible for Messi to stay at Barca within the economical situation of the club," he said. "We reached an agreement with Messi, we just weren't able to formalise it."

'We don't have any margins'

Indeed, Laporta preferred to take aim at predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu due to the state of the club when he took over.

"We don't have any margin," began Laporta's opening statement. "We knew that when we got to the club, but the numbers that were presented to us after the first audit, and our analysis, those numbers are a lot worse than those exposed initially, which are what we are working with now."

He added: "An investment of that volume with the contract of Messi was risky. We wanted to assume those risks, but when we have realised the real situation at the club after the audit, it means that we would have put the club at great risk."

'They have not given us satisfactory answers'

Bartomeu was not the only individual criticised, though, with Laporta repeatedly highlighting issues with a deal LaLiga have done with CVC Capital Partners, which will see the private equity firm acquire 10 per cent of the league's commercial business for €2.7billion.

LaLiga chief Javier Tebas posted on Twitter during the news conference to query Laporta's suggestion the agreement would impact broadcasting rights.

Informed of the post, Laporta replied: "I will tell you that we do not interpret it that way. In fact, yesterday our senior executives spoke with those who run this operation and they have not given us satisfactory answers. I understand the legal formulas that you articulate, because they are ingenious, but this implies giving up a part of our rights with a horizon of half a century. In addition, I would tell you that the amount set by CVC is much lower than what, for us, the 10 per cent of LaLiga should be valued."

'Those are personal conversations'

Laporta was far more guarded over conversations he might have had with Tebas as LaLiga's best player departs the competition.

"Those are personal conversations," he said. "I can't disclose them."

'The player has had other offers'

Laporta insisted he does not know where Messi will go next, but he suggested there had already been contact from rival clubs.

"During the course of negotiations, we've known that the player has had other offers," he said. "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."

Laporta added: "He's the best player in the world and logic takes you to think that he has other very good offers."

'The tribute that Leo Messi deserves'

Messi has been on holiday in Ibiza, while his father flew in for discussions this week, but Barca hope to be able to pay tribute to their legendary number 10 in future.

"The tribute for Leo Messi will be the tribute that Leo Messi wants, whatever he likes, whatever he wants to do," Laporta confirmed. "If it was up to us, we'd pay tribute to Leo Messi every day for what he's done for Barca. With the circumstances we're in right now, in terms of the pandemic, in terms of the economic situation, in terms of the pre-season, that makes it complicated. I hope that one day we can see the tribute that Leo Messi deserves."

'We're starting a new era'

For now, the focus at Camp Nou must be on the new season, with a squad learning to play without their stalwart superstar.

"Everyone was waiting for Leo to go to the dressing room and start training," Laporta said of the squad. "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. 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."

Barcelona have not ruled out signing a replacement for Lionel Messi despite their financial constraints.

Messi will not return for the 2021-22 season, Barca announced on Thursday, with a new deal unable to fit within LaLiga's salary restrictions.

President Joan Laporta, explaining the collapsed negotiations on Friday, confirmed new recruits Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, Emerson Royal and Memphis Depay could be registered, though.

And despite a desperate financial situation, which Laporta said was "a lot worse than exposed initially", there could yet be a further arrival to help plug the gap left by Barca's greatest ever player.

"No, the first team squad isn't done, isn't closed," the president said. "The market closes on August 31, so lots of things could happen."

Barca already appear well stocked in attacking areas, with Aguero and Depay boosting a forward line that includes Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho.

Martin Braithwaite and Rey Manaj – the Barcelona B striker – have both played and scored for the Blaugrana in pre-season.

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland was also linked early in the transfer window, although the Bundesliga outfit are highly unlikely to accommodate a sale Barca could afford.

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.

"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."

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."

Barcelona keeping Lionel Messi would have put the club at great risk according to Joan Laporta, who criticised both the previous regime and also LaLiga in a powerful media conference.

The Spanish club sensationally announced on Thursday that Messi would not be continuing at Camp Nou, despite agreeing terms on a new contract.

A short statement revealed how "financial and structural obstacles" made a deal impossible, despite an injection of funds stemming from the league signing an investment and revenue-sharing deal with CVC Capital Partners, who will hold a 10 per cent stake.

Barca joined rivals Real Madrid in denouncing the plan, with Laporta unwilling to mortgage the long-term future of the club by accepting the restructure, even if that meant ruling out retaining Messi.

The club's president also discussed how the Josep Maria Bartomeu regime had created serious financial problems, even greater than he initially thought following a thorough audit.

"We don't have any margin. We knew that when we got to the club, but the numbers that were presented to us after the first audit, and our analysis, those numbers are a lot worse than those exposed initially, which are what we are working with now," Laporta said in his opening statement to the media on Friday.

"That means that the losses are a lot more elevated than expected, we are spending a lot more than we expected and the current contracts mean that we have this salary of great magnitude, allowing us no margin.

"This is all tied to fair play, the financial fair play in LaLiga meant we couldn't fit in the first contract we had agreed to with Lionel Messi.

"In order to have that fair play, Barca had to agree to an operation that would affect the club for the next 50 years, in terms of television rights [the CVC deal].

"That has meant that as I've had to make a decision, I can't make one to affect the club for the next 50 years, the club is over 100 years old, it's above everyone, everything – even the best player in the world, the best player who has been with us for years, and we will always thank him for what he's done for us."

Laporta made clear that Messi had wanted to remain with Barcelona, with reports suggesting the Argentina superstar was willing to take a 50 per cent pay cut.

However, LaLiga president Javier Tebas made clear in recent weeks that the governing body would not relax financial rules just to keep the competition's biggest name.

"The reasons why we have decided to get to this point of negotiations is that there are objective reasons regarding the economical situation of the club," Laporta continued.

"An investment of that volume with the contract of Messi was risky. We wanted to assume those risks, but when we have realised the real situation at the club after the audit, it means that we would have put the club at great risk.

"The salary has a great deal to do with that, after a calamitous situation that was down to the previous board of administrators. If we terminate the current contacts, that also has risks, the only way to have that salary margin right now, was to accept that operation. We can go into details, but it’s an operation that puts at risk the club for the next 50 years.

"We understand we can't do that. Leo wanted to stay at Barca, we wanted him to stay, the fact he wanted to stay was the first step that was made. That was a key factor - he wanted to stay."

Messi's future is unclear as the major European leagues all prepare for the start of a new season. A move to Manchester City was strongly rumoured a year ago when the 34-year-old pushed to leave, though it is unclear if the Premier League champions retain any interest in a deal at this time.

Paris Saint-Germain are the early favourites, with Laporta making clear negotiations are over with Barca as he looks to do what is best for the club in their current circumstances.

"I want to thank everyone who has been in the negotiations during the past few months, with all the little intricacies, there were a lot of aspects to be negotiated as well," Laporta said in closing.

"It needed to be compatible with fair play, be of a certain duration, and after all of this, there comes a moment when you need to say enough.

"You need to analyse it rigorously with a cold head and look at the numbers. In LaLiga, we have to abide by the rules, we feel they could be more flexible but that’s not an excuse. We knew we couldn’t abide by it due to the situation.

"Leo deserves everything – he has proven that he loves Barca, he has his roots here.

"I'm sad, but I'm convinced we've done the best for the club."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is optimistic Lionel Messi will sign a contract extension with the club but knows they must stay patient.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is now a free agent after his deal at Camp Nou expired on June 30.

According to reports, Messi has agreed a new five-year deal with the Blaugrana while accepting a substantial pay cut – although there has yet to be official confirmation.

Barca's significant financial difficulties are likely to mean other players must leave before Messi – or any of the club's new signings, including Sergio Aguero – can be registered.

Nevertheless, club president Laporta says negotiations are progressing well and is confident there will be a positive update in the near future.

"The professionals are doing their job well," he said. "We are very satisfied with how everything is progressing.

"But you know that it is a special market that requires patience, skill and sometimes some juggling.

"But I think, as the summer progresses, we will be able to give good news."

Messi has spent his entire playing career with the Catalan giants, for whom he is the all-time leading scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances.

The 34-year-old has also won 10 LaLiga titles with Barca since making his senior debut in 2004, as well as the Copa del Rey seven times and the Champions League on four occasions.

And he recently captured his first major international honour; captaining Argentina to Copa America glory following a 1-0 victory over Brazil in the final.

Talks between Lionel Messi and Barcelona over a new contract are "progressing adequately", according to Joan Laporta.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi, who has spent his entire senior career at Camp Nou, is now officially a free agent after his Barcelona deal expired at the end of June.

He has been linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain in the past, but the 34-year-old is widely expected to remain with the Blaugrana despite their financial problems.

However, Barca must first reduce their wage bill if they are to comply with LaLiga's financial fair play rules and offer Messi the deal he is holding out for.

Messi's club future is now back in focus after helping Argentina to Copa America success last week and Barca president Laporta remains hopeful terms can be agreed.

"[Messi's renewal] is progressing adequately," he told reporters during the presentation of Mago Pop's show 'Nothing is Impossible'.

"All the Catalans, Barcelona, Catalunya and the entire football world are happy because Leo won the Copa America.

"It is very exciting to see the best player in football history get excited about winning a title like this and he made all of us cry with joy.

"He is very happy, we are all happy. I am happy for Leo who has managed [to win the Copa America], together with his team-mates, and that Argentina are once again in the elite. 

"I am happy for Messi's family, for Argentina, for Barcelona who are recognised, admired and loved for having this bond with Leo."

 

Messi was again hugely influential for Barcelona last season, finishing as LaLiga's top scorer and managing 38 goals and 12 assists across all competitions.

Taking all competitions into account, he created 117 chances for others and netted a goal every 110.32 minutes. 

Full-back Jordi Alba was next on the list of the most chances created for Barca in 2020-21, teeing up 85 goalscoring opportunities.

Despite the speculation surrounding his club future, Messi carried his club form onto the international stage by inspiring Argentina to their first Copa America crown since 1993.

He scored four goals and chipped in with five assists to win his first piece of silverware for his country.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has stated the breakaway European Super League is "dead", deeming the controversial concept "impossible" after nine of the 12 clubs involved pulled out.

The announcement of the planned competition led to a huge backlash, including from governing bodies, rival clubs, fans, players and media, leading to the majority of the teams that had signed up making a quick U-turn.

UEFA issued fines to Atletico Madrid, Inter, Milan, and the six Premier League clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham - but a court ruling meant disciplinary proceedings against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus, the three founding members yet to cut ties with the Super League, had to be halted.

A preliminary injunction was granted by a judge in Spain, with the case heading to the European Court of Justice.

Barca president Joan Laporta recently said his own club will not apologise for "wanting to be the owners of our own destiny", while he also insisted the project remains very much alive.

However, speaking on a media call on Wednesday, Tebas made clear Barca are incorrect to make such an assessment, considering the mass exodus.

"I've spoken with Barca executives in recent days. They believe they should keep doing what they're doing and I think they're wrong," Tebas said. 

"The concept of the Super League is impossible. Nine of the twelve clubs have asked to dissolve the company they founded."

He added: "The model they're defending, without the English clubs... I think it's dead.

"Laporta says the courts have said they're in the right, but that's not true, it's one judge in Madrid and an injunction.

"I've tried to convince them that they're wrong and should work along other lines."

Tebas was also asked about Lionel Messi's future, making clear Barca will not be allowed any leeway in terms of LaLiga's salary cap to make sure the superstar remains at Camp Nou.

Barcelona have already been busy in the transfer market as they reshape their squad, adding forward duo Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay on free transfers, as well as centre-back Eric Garcia.

"LaLiga has its rules and Barca know that. They know that they have to lower their salary costs by a lot," said Tebas, who hopes to have stadiums 60 per cent full when the 2021-22 season begins, despite the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Messi is the same as Sergio Aguero or anyone else that they are adding. We will not make any exception for Messi to stay here."

Joan Laporta insists Barcelona will not apologise for "wanting to be the owners of our own destiny" in am impassioned defence of the doomed European Super League.

The contentious project failed to get off the ground after nine of the 12 founding members pulled out amid a furious backlash to competition.

Last month, UEFA issued fines to Atletico Madrid, Inter, Milan, and the six Premier League teams involved but a court ruling meant disciplinary proceedings against Barca, Real Madrid and Juventus – the three teams yet to cut ties with the Super League – had to be halted.

Barca president Laporta remains adamant the Super League will still go ahead in some guise in the future as he issued a note of defiance when addressing the club's general assembly, where he explained a vote on participation in the competition was no longer necessary as the format no longer existed.

"We spoke with the clubs [involved] and said we liked [the proposals], but that we needed them to accept that our members would have to approve entry at the next assembly," Laporta said.

"It was logical to have that vote before June 30. But now, as the format doesn't exist, I won't ask you to vote. But the project is alive, I insist.

"We're still trying to enter into dialogue with UEFA. We won't apologise for trying to organise a competition. We won't say sorry to UEFA for wanting to be the owners of our own destiny. At least not while I am president."

Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham had all signed up as participants from the Premier League.

Laporta suggested the English teams may now be rueing their decision to withdraw.

"The English clubs were the competition's driving force and they got scared under pressure from UEFA," he added.

"I think they regret leaving the Super League now, seeing how UEFA have backtracked on their threats."

Laporta claimed the Super League would have been worth "€700m in addition to variables" for Barca, a sum that would have helped boost the coffers of a club reportedly over €1.2billion in debt.

On Sunday, a vote agreed to accept a loan from Goldman Sachs worth up to €525million, money that Laporta insists will not be used on transfers.

"We're talking about the viability of the club," Laporta said prior to members voting. 

"No one should think that this money will be for signings or other projects. We have to stop the bleeding."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta remains confident Lionel Messi will sign a new deal at the club and insists persuading him to remain at Camp Nou is a straightforward process.  

The Barca legend is entering the final weeks of his current deal, which expires on June 30, and reports have previously suggested he is close to penning a two-year extension.  

However, negotiations have not been completed just yet, but Laporta indicated he is calm about the situation.    

"He wants to stay," said Laporta, speaking at the presentation of the TV3 documentary about Messi.

"I do not contemplate a no. But it isn't easy. We'll do what we can." 

Should Messi prolong his Barca career it would represent a remarkable end to the last 12 months, which saw the 33-year-old send shockwaves through world football by declaring he wanted to leave before agreeing to stay.  

Laporta said: "There is no need to seduce him. He is determined, if there are a series of circumstances, to stay." 

Messi is currently on international duty with Argentina at the Copa America in Brazil, scoring a free-kick in Monday's 1-1 draw with Chile in their tournament opener.  

And Laporta revealed Sergio Aguero, Barcelona’s new recruit following his Manchester City exit, is doing his bit to ensure his Argentina team-mate commits to Barca.  

Laporta said: "Kun Aguero tells him every day: 'Sign that, we will play together.' 

"In economic terms, he [Messi] has made it very easy, but financial fair play is another battleground." 

Messi finished top scorer in LaLiga last season with 30 goals in 35 appearances and is the club's record scorer.

Lionel Messi could spend the latter days of his career at Inter Miami in Major League Soccer – at least, the club's co-owner is "optimistic" such a deal could be arranged.

Messi's future has been shrouded in uncertainly for the best part of a year, with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner attempting to force a departure from Barcelona last August.

While that did not come to fruition, with Messi unwilling to drag the club through the courts in an attempt to exercise an apparent get-out clause, his future has been a constant source of speculation through 2020-21 due to his contract expiring at the end of June.

Barca president Joan Laporta said this month that contract discussions were going well, with Messi seemingly happier at the club since the October resignation of Josep Maria Bartomeu and the previous board.

Although a move to Miami would seem unlikely at this juncture regardless of Messi's relationship with Barca, Jorge Mas, co-owner of the MLS side, sees no reason why an agreement would not be possible in the future.

"I am optimistic Messi will play in an Inter Miami shirt because I think it will complete the legacy of the greatest player in our generation and will meet with the ambitions of the owners of Inter Miami to build a world-class team," Mas told the Miami Herald.

Former Real Madrid, Manchester United and England star David Beckham is among the others to own a share of the MLS franchise and also serves as its president.

Mas says he and Beckham have certain ambitions regarding the calibre of player they want to see in Florida, and someone of Messi's reputation fits the bill.

He added: "David and I have been working really hard, we have aspirations of bringing the best players here and Messi is a generational player, arguably the best player of all time."

Jordi Alba is adamant Ronald Koeman deserves at least another season at Barcelona after president Joan Laporta confirmed the Dutchman will be in charge for 2021-22.

Koeman was appointed last August as Quique Setien's successor following a crushing end to 2019-20, which saw Barca demolished 8-2 in the Champions League, the first time they had conceded so many goals in one game since 1946.

After a shaky start to 2020-21, Koeman eventually got Barca looking capable of challenging for the league title as he got the best out of Lionel Messi, who scored 30 league goals to win an eighth Pichichi trophy of his career.

While Barca did go on to win the Copa del Rey, their challenge to Atletico Madrid wilted in the final weeks of the season and they ultimately finished third.

Their tally of 79 points was their lowest total since 2007-08, when they managed 67. Indeed, the last coach to earn 76 or fewer points in his first 38 games with the club was Frank Rijkaard in 2003-04 (72).

With Atletico winning the title and Real Madrid doing so the previous year, it meant Barca have failed to win LaLiga in two successive seasons for the first time since 2008.

Perhaps it was unsurprising to see Koeman's future come under so much scrutiny, but after several weeks of uncertainty – what Laporta called a "reflection period" – the club eventually opted to keep Koeman, which was the right decision in the eyes of Alba.

Speaking to Radio Marca, Alba said: "Ronald has done a great job since he arrived.

"We had been improving throughout the season and he deserved to continue at the club."

The left-back, who is currently away preparing for Euro 2020 with Spain, also saluted Barca's early dealings in the transfer market, with Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia – a national team colleague of Alba – arriving on free transfers from Manchester City.

"The arrivals of Aguero and Eric Garcia seem very good to me," he added. "We already knew Kun [Aguero] in football terms and they [those in the team who know him] have spoken very well of him to me from a human perspective.

"And Eric is a humble boy who wants to learn, and it is good that people from La Masia come back. In the Spain squad we have already seen his quality."

Pep Guardiola believes Ronald Koeman deserves to stay on as Barcelona boss for another season.

Koeman admitted it was a relief to see speculation over his future as Barca head coach ended last week when president Joan Laporta confirmed he would remain in charge for the 2021-22 season.

It followed a period where Laporta sought out other potential candidates while Koeman remained in his post, with some controversy when the president was criticised by the head coach's representatives for comments about his health.

The Dutchman led Barca to Copa del Rey glory last season, though fell short in LaLiga and the Champions League, having taken over at a turbulent period that saw Lionel Messi request to leave following a fallout with former president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Luis Suarez controversially sold to eventual champions Atletico Madrid.

Former Barca team-mates Koeman and Guardiola were golfing together with their sons last week, with the Manchester City boss thrilled at Laporta's decision.

"Koeman is the ideal coach for next season, I spoke to Laporta and I am very happy the president is convinced," Guardiola said to Cadena SER.

"I am a good friend of Ronald. It has been a difficult year for everyone and Ronald deserves one more year, with people in the stadium. 

"Besides, second years are always better.

"At times the team has played very well, they are among those who played better football in Spain.

"They fell at the end when he was close to winning and Atletico won the league, but he won the cup and in general were very good."

Guardiola was one of the names briefly connected with the Camp Nou post when Laporta referenced his dream to bring the Catalan back to the club he coached so successfully from 2008 to 2012.

"I have a two-year contract at Manchester, I'm happy and so it will continue to be," said Guardiola.

He recently saw one of his top young prospects and an experienced stalwart swap City for Barca after the Catalans signed Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero on free transfers.

Guardiola had warm words for both players, predicting Garcia to become a future Camp Nou star.

"Aguero and Eric Garcia are two great signings - Kun is a scorer," said Guardiola. 

"With Eric I will tell Koeman that he has a spectacular fit, he is a good guy, really intelligent. He will be one of the captains of the next decade."

Ronald Koeman admits it was a relief to see speculation over his future as Barcelona head coach ended this week.

On Thursday, Barca president Joan Laporta confirmed Koeman would remain in charge of the first team for the 2021-22 season.

A hero as a player at Camp Nou, Koeman could only secure third place in LaLiga last season as Atletico Madrid won the title, his Copa del Rey success doing little to quieten the doubters.

Laporta had seemed keen to appoint a replacement before next season, with former club captain Xavi reportedly among the favourites for the role, but he announced his support for Koeman following a "reflection period".

Koeman said the discussions and doubts over his position had been "intense", but that he was now focused on steering Barca back towards major trophies.

"I am relieved to say my players and staff can fully focus on the new season now," he said via his Twitter account.

"The last few weeks have been intense, but I am glad that president Joan Laporta gave his support to me and calm has been restored.

"The focus of everyone in the club is the same: building a winning Barca and achieving success!"

Barca allowed the title to slip from their reach after dragging themselves back into contention following a poor start to the season.

They failed to finish in the top two and went two seasons running without winning the title for the first time since 2008.

Their tally of 79 points was their lowest total since the same year, when they managed 67. Indeed, the last coach to earn 76 or fewer points in his first 38 games with the club was Frank Rijkaard in 2003-04 (72 – W21 D9 L8).

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