FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta explained the club’s decision to end its 21-year relationship with Lionel Messi and break off talks over a new contract.
Barca shocked the football world on Thursday with the announcement that Messi would leave the club, when most were expecting them to announce a new five-year contract with the 34-year-old. Laporta explained on Friday that La Liga’s financial fair play rules made it impossible to give Messi a new contract under the conditions the player required.
“We’ve been in negotiations for more than two months and these discussions have now concluded. We cannot register the player because we don’t have room for him in our wage bill.”
“We cannot find a way around the current financial fair play rules and it doesn’t make any sense to continue [with discussions]. The player also needs some time to assess the offers that he has on the table, and we need to respect that,” Laporta said.
“It is painful, but we must now go on without Messi. It’s very sad, but it is a challenge and we need to address it as such,” continued the Barca president.
Laporta assured that Messi wanted to stay at the club and said Barca would organise a testimonial game in his honour at a future date. He also pointed the finger of blame at former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, criticising his predecessor’s “terrible” economic mismanagement and explaining the club was on track to make losses of 487 million euros.
He also referred to the agreement announced by La Liga and investment company CVC Capital Partners, which would see CVC have a 10 per cent stake of a joint company that negotiates image rights for La Liga for the next 40 years. Although this agreement would mean 270 million euros for Barca, 40 million of which would be available for wages, Laporta said that Barca — along with Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao — was opposed to the agreement.
“In order to abide by Financial Fair Play rules, Barca would have needed to agree to ‘mortgage’ some of the club’s rights for half a century. When we needed to make a decision, we decided that we wouldn’t be willing to do that for anybody. ‘Mortgaging’ Barca’s rights for half a century, no way,” he insisted.