Lionel Messi shocked the footballing world when he left Barcelona for free in the summer – and now the club’s president has made a claim, despite knowing it wasn’t legally possible
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has claimed that he thought Lionel Messi would have played for the club for free, despite knowing that the Argentine legally wasn’t allowed to due to Spanish law.
Messi’s contract expired at the end of June and the club did everything they could to try and keep him within the bounds of the La Liga salary cap.
The Argentine superstar was willing to take a 50% pay cut if it meant he could stay, but the club were unable to make it work and Messi subsequently departed.
Many fans wondered why Messi didn’t offer to play for free, but unfortunately it would have been legally impossible as Spanish law stipulates that “any new contract, is by Spanish law, required to be a minimum of 50% of previous wage (this is in place to avoid financial manipulation).
But despite being aware of such things, Laporta, who is himself a lawyer, recently made the claim when discussing Messi’s exit in an interview with RAC1.
“With Messi I do not get angry because I appreciate him,” said Laporta. “I know he had a huge desire to stay, but also a lot of pressure because of the offer he had.
“Everything indicates that he already had the offer from PSG. Everyone knew that he had a very powerful offer. We knew from Messi that they had a very good offer.
“At no time do I think of going backwards. I think I’m doing the best for Barca. Nobody can put the institution at risk.
“I did hope that at the last minute Messi would say that he would play for free. I would have liked that and he would have convinced me. I understand that the league would have accepted it. But we cannot ask that of a player of his level.”
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Meanwhile, while one saga was finally solved when Messi joined PSG on a free transfer, another rumbles on.
And that saga concerns the future of Ronald Koeman, who could join Messi through the Barcelona exit door.
Former Everton and now Belgium boss and club legend Xavi are two of the names linked with the post, but Laporta has insisted Koeman will continue as head coach, for now at least.
“The decision is that Koeman continues,” Laporta said. “He is a cule like us. He wants Barca to do well. He has a valid contract and he has to be respected. I am happy with the decision.
“With Xavi I speak frequently because we are friends. Also with Pep [Guardiola]. I like to know what they think because they know more than me.
“The coach we have is Koeman. We are proud to have him as a coach.
“People can think what they want. At no time have I ever said that it is not Koeman. I think he deserves the margin of confidence. It is a decision that is the best one. Our coach is Koeman.”