Barcelona president Joan Laporta on Friday confirmed that Lionel Messi will leave the club, saying the financial state of the club made it impossible to keep the Argentine and that the Spanish league’s salary cap rules did not allow a new deal to be registered.
Keeping Messi would be risky for Barcelona and not even the greatest player in the world was worth jeopardising the club’s future, he said.
The president blamed the club’s previous administration for its dire financial situation, which kept it from fitting Messi’s new contract within the league’s fair play regulations.
“There are objective reasons regarding the economical situation at the club and an investment of that volume with the contract of Messi was risky,” Laporta said.
“We wanted to assume those risks, but when we realised the real situation of the club after the audit, it meant that we would have put the club in great risk.”
He said Messi and the club did everything possible to make the contract work but it was not possible without hurting Barcelona’s finances.
“After all of this negotiation process, there comes a moment where you need to say enough,” Laporta said.
“You need to analyse rigorously with a cold head and look at the numbers. And in the Spanish league we have to abide by the rules. We think they could be more flexible, but that’s not an excuse, we knew the regulation. We couldn’t abide by it because of the inheritance we had.”
Laporta said new funding recently secured by the league would have helped but the club was against the deal because it would have hurt the team’s broadcasting rights revenues for the next 50 years.
“We think Barcelona is above all,” Laporta said. “The club is over 100 years old and is above everyone, even above the best player in the world. The club goes over players, coaches, presidents.
“Messi tried to make it as easy as possible for us. This is a sad moment for the club, but we have made our decision with the club’s interests in mind. We’ve overcome difficulties before and we will do it again. The post-Messi era begins here”.