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Joan Laporta talks Barcelona’s ‘very worrying’ €1.35bn debt

The president has hit back at Bartomeu

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona president Joan Laporta held a press conference on Monday where he offered more details on the the club’s perilous financial situation and responded to last week’s open letter from former chief Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Laporta made it clear exactly how much debt has been racked up at the Camp Nou and also spoke about the team’s wage bill in the wake of Lionel Messi’s exit from the club.

“Our salaries represent 103% of the club’s total income, that’s 20-25% more than our competitors,” he said.

“The first thing we had to do when we arrived was to ask for a loan of 80m euros because, otherwise, we could not pay the salaries. The previous regime was full of lies.

“Barcelona has a negative net worth of 451m euros - it is a terrible inheritance. What has been happening is very worrying.”

The Barcelona president was highly critical of Bartomeu’s letter which he said was “full of lies” and “an exercise in depair.”

Laporta also spoke about Messi’s exit and said the club had made the right decision regarding the Argentine. The president also insisted he had thought the club would be able to renew Messi.

“We were sure we could renew Messi, because we did not yet know the numbers we now know. We had the numbers of the previous budgets. We could still see some space, if we sold players and reduced salaries.

“La Liga also made us a proposal we could not accept. Leo looks pretty happy in Paris now, it has ended like that. Love stories are never eternal, most don’t last as long as that between Leo and Barca.

“Watching him at PSG brings mixed feelings for all at Barca, but we made the right decision, not to put the club in more risk. We were willing to do everything possible, within the possibilities of the club.”

There’s a bit of scrutiny on Laporta’s handling of Messi’s renewal. The 59-year-old insisted for a long time “everything was on track” with the contract, until it wasn’t, and it’s not quite clear when he first realized a renewal was way out of the club’s reach.

Yet despite all the bad news, Laporta also had some positive words for supporters and can see a bright future ahead despite all the club’s current issues.

“The situation is dramatic, but we have good news. The strategic plan based on our credibility and experience, on the assets that Barça have, makes this situation temporary. I think that in a couple of years, the club’s economy will be healthy.

“We are not scared at all. We are highly motivated and positive and morale is high. It’s a big challenge but we are capable of overcoming it. I’d like to call on all Barça fans and the entire club to be united. With football and unity, I’m convinced this era will be full of success.”

Laporta will certainly have his work cut out getting the club back on an even keel. More salary reductions are expected shortly, according to Gerard Pique, while the club still has time to try and sell players before the close of the summer transfer window.