Barcelona president Joan Laporta has explained in a press conference the reasons why Lionel Messi is leaving the club, with the La Liga wage cap proving an impossible barrier to overcome at this stage.
The Argentine star, who has won the Ballon d’Or a record six times during his career at Barcelona, saw his contract expire at the end of June with no agreement in place to extend his stay in Catalonia.
“I am here to explain the situation about Messi,” Laporta told reporters. “I need to say first, sadly we have such a bad financial past that means the wages are 110% of the income.
“That means we have no flexibility. The situation is worse than we were told and what we had calculated based on official data.
“The debt is bigger than expected. That is linked to Financial Fair Play (FFP), of course. The new contract with Messi could not be approved.
“[The] reasons why we have decided to stop negotiations are objective reasons: the financial situation of the club. The investment to keep him had plenty of risks. We wanted to take them but when we have not known the reality of the club after the audit, we have decided not to to so.
“Messi wanted to stay. I want to thank those that negotiated for months with plenty of time and interest in such a complicated negotiation. It had to be done in a determined time as he had other offers, plus within FFP, but this process at some point has to stop.
“You have to leave feelings away, you have to look at numbers with a cold head. We wanted La Liga to be more flexible, but this is no excuse. We knew the rules and what we have been left with from the previous board makes it all impossible.
“I am sad but I also think we have done the best for Barcelona. Barcelona is above anyone, including the best player in the world . We will always be thankful to him.
“I don’t want to create false expectations. The player has got other offers. We had a limit of time for us and also for him. If the FFP does not change and it looks like it will not, then the player needed to look after his future.
“We had a first agreement of two years to pay over five years. Messi has opened the door to all kinds of help to make it happen. We thought we could do it, but FFP stopped it. Then we had a deal of five years, agreed by Leo, even though we thought of two years with us.
“Two years made sense for him too as he has other plans after that. Again, we though FFP would accept it, but a technical analysis of La Liga told us that the deal would not work either.
“To enter [Messi’s] €25million (£21.2million) in wages, we had to reduce €100million (£84.9million) from the wage list. That is a lot to reduce. Some [players] have reduced or restructured their wages. Other club decisions on that did not guarantee success.
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“The situation of the wages is unsustainable and we keep working to reduce it. On That comes on the back of years of mismanagement. The new players [Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay] have accepted wages that can be fitted in.
“Even without Leo we don’t have margin to manoeuvre. We need to keep working to help our football directors to be able to take new decisions.
“The 110% of wages in relation to income doesn’t include the deal with Messi.
“Leo wanted to stay, so he is not happy. He now has to face the reality that cannot be changed. His family and he know I wish them the best. Barcelona is his home, he has made the club bigger.”