Barcelona president Joan Laporta confessed that he had hoped that Lionel Messi would have played for free instead of leaving to join Paris Saint-Germain.
Due to an administrative obstacle, with Messi agreeing new terms once he was technically released, the 34-year-old Argentine was not able to stay with the Spanish club and instead signed a deal with PSG.
Barcelona had already signed Eric Garcia, Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay on free transfers, meaning they did not have room to afford Messi’s salary as a new player according to La Liga salary cap regulations.
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"There came a time when both parties saw that it would not be possible. There was disappointment on both sides," Laporta said to radio station RAC1.
"He wanted to stay but they also had a lot of pressure because of the offer they had.
"I hoped Messi would do a U-turn and he would say he would play for free.
"I would have liked that and I would have been all for it. It is my understanding La Liga would have accepted it. But we cannot ask a player of Messi's stature to do this."
Laporta also claimed that the Liga authorities would have given permission for Barcelona to keep Messi had they signed up to a deal with private equity outfit CVC Capital Partners.
Laporta explained the decision, saying: "We do not need more debt.
"I understand La Liga clubs are suffering. We have not ruled ourselves out of this operation but they have to change it. They are trying to reformulate the deal."
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