Barcelona FC President Joan Laporta stated at a press conference on Friday that Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi “wanted to stay” with the Spanish club and that “we wanted him to stay.”
On Thursday evening, the Catalan club had announced that Messi, who arrived in Barcelona in 2000 at the age of 13, will leave due to "financial and structural obstacles."
The player was expected to sign a new five-year deal – but on significantly reduced wages given the severe financial crisis the Catalan club is under.
However, Laporta, who was elected as club president for the second time in 2021, clarified that “in order to achieve this, Barcelona had to agree to an operation that implied mortgaging part of the club's television rights for half a century.”
He added that “I wasn't going to do that” since the club was “above any player. Including the best player in the world.”
34-year-old Messi has been a free agent after his contract expired at the end of June.
Thursday’s statement by the club had stated that "despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations)."
"As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.
"FC Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life."
Last year, Messi stunned Barcelona by announcing that he wanted out after the 2019-2020 season ended without a title and his relationship with then club president Josep Bartomeu deteriorated.
The return of Joan Laporta to the club’s presidency in March has been key in bringing Messi back into the fold. Laporta ran Barcelona when Messi had his breakout as a teenager.