Barcelona president Joan Laporta has admitted that he had hoped that Lionel Messi would agree to play for free at the last moment to continue his tenure with his boyhood club. The Argentina international joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer from Barcelona over the summer.
One of the most shocking transfer windows of European football was capped off by the stunning transfer of Lionel Messi as he left Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain on a two-year deal. The Argentina international was originally set to stay at the Camp Nou after terms were agreed between the club and the player but the Catalan club's financial mismanagement on and off the pitch along with La Liga's wage regulations meant that no paperwork could be signed.
The six-time Ballon d'Or winner bid farewell to his boyhood club where he made history as he scored 672 goals and provided 301 assists in 778 appearances across all competitions. The 34-year-old put curtains on a trophy-laden stint with the Spanish giants and embarked on a new chapter in France to continue a storied career. Barcelona president Joan Laporta expressed his gratitude towards Messi while admitting that he hoped Messi would offer to play for free at the last minute.
"With Messi, I do not get angry because I appreciate him. 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,” Laporta told RAC1.
“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,” he added.