Barcelona president Joan Laporta spoke to the press on Friday to give further details on the bombshell announcement from Thursday that Lionel Messi will not continue at the club. Laporta reiterated that the financial state of the club made it impossible to keep Messi, and that La Liga’s salary cap rules didn’t allow Messi’s new deal to be registered.
Laporta blamed Josep Maria Bartomeu’s regime for creating a wage bill that is higher than all of the club’s income, and made it clear that allowing Messi to leave was a necessary step to begin turning the finances around. The president also made it clear that Messi wanted to stay and that a deal was fully agreed and ready to be signed, but Laporta ran out of time and resources.
When asked if there is any chance that the situation changes and Messi continues at the club, Laporta was clear: he doesn’t want to play with the fans’ feelings and everyone needs to accept the reality that the greatest player of all time is no longer a Barcelona player.
“I don’t want to give false hope. The player has other offers on the tables and there has been a deadline for these negotiations: because La Liga is starting soon, and because the player needs time to make a decision [on his next club]. 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. After two months of negotiations, it is clear that we cannot sign the player. 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.
“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.
“Leo wanted to stay at Barça and Barça wanted him to stay. He made sacrifices, making things as easy for us as he could, but there comes a time when you need to take stock of the situation and leave your feelings aside.
“Leo deserves the very best. He has demonstrated his love for Barça and his desire to remain here. I’m sad, but I’m convinced that we’ve done what is right for FC Barcelona.
The club has existed for almost 122 years, and it is therefore more important than any player — even the best player in the world. We have been lucky enough to see [Leo Messi] representing our club for many years, and we are eternally grateful to him for his service. The club must come before any player, coach, president or director.”
Source: Diario Sport
So where do we go from here? Laporta says that the four new signings — Sergio Agüero, Memphis Depay, Eric García and Emerson Royal — will be able to be registered and play this season, and reports say that Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba will sign new contracts with dramatic salary reductions to make sure that the squad is under the La Liga salary cap.
Ronald Koeman is still expected to continue as manager, and Barça will use the remainder of the transfer window to try and offload players like Samuel Umtiti, Miralem Pjanic and Philippe Coutinho.
But the most important thing is this: Lionel Messi is no longer a Barcelona player. Time to start accepting that.