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Barcelona President Joan Laporta Reveals All In First Press Conference Since Lionel Messi's Shock Departure

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Barcelona President Joan Laporta Reveals All In First Press Conference Since Lionel Messi's Shock Departure

Lionel Messi had agreed a five-year contract on reduced wages to remain at Barcelona for the remainder of his career but because of financial regulations, the contract was not found to be valid.

That's according to club president Joan Laporta, who covered a range of different topics regarding the six-time Ballon d'Or winner during a fascinating 90-minute press conference on Friday morning.

In the press conference, he spoke about how Barcelona's current financial situation is worse than expected. In fact, they are set to lose €400m this year alone.

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Laporta started things off with a comment about financial fair play and the club's heavy losses of late.

"First I would l like that the inheritance that we have received is awful, dreadful," he said. "The salary mass is 110 per cent of the income of the club, we don't have any margin in terms of salary.

"The rules and regulations of the Spanish LaLiga is regulated by a financial fair play. We don't have any margin.

"We knew that when we got to the club. But I have to say when we got to the club, after the first conclusions of the audit and our analysis, those numbers are a lot worse than the numbers were first exposed to us initially. It means the losses are more elevated than we had expected."

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One thing that was made abundantly clear during Laporta's press conference is that the club must come first above all else - even a player with Messi's stature.

"I can't make a decision that will affect the club for 50 years," he said.

"The club is over 100 years old and it's above everyone and everything, even above the best player of the world. We will always thank him for everything he's done for us.

"In order to have fair play, we need to do this or make an effort which would put the club at risk. We couldn't keep going with this and we needed to make a decision, which we have."

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Image credit: PA
Image credit: PA

The Catalan club can now register new signings after allowing Messi to leave but ultimately, neither the club or player are happy about how the situation played out.

"Leo wanted to stay, so he's not happy. We all wanted him to stay. For him, he has to confront reality. It's a reality that can't be changed and he knows I wish him the best wherever he goes."

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The Barcelona president, who thought La Liga would be more flexible with fair play, also confirmed the details behind their contract offer to Messi.

"Messi tried to make it easy for us in negotiations," Laporta said.

"The first offer was two years of salary to be paid in five years. When we thought that was allowed in the regulations of fair play, the criteria of cash came into play and it's not allowed here but it is in other countries. It's all part of the process.

"We were all thinking for two years but if he wanted more, we could negotiate. But two years at Barca is what we all wanted. We wanted the post-Messi era to start in two years. We had to bring that forward."

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Messi has already been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain in recent hours. In fact, contact has already been made by the French club, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Laporta confirmed the 34-year-old has other offers on the table before suggesting their actions are "in the best in the interests" of the club.

"Messi's camp have done everything that they can do and more than that. It's not about that. I can't create false expectation. I don't think they are real. They have other offers, he proved to us he wanted to say. He wanted to stay even if our offer was inferior to what they had.

"You would have to ask Leo Messi about that and his agents. I can't put words in Leo's mouth. He's the best player in the world and logic says he has offers from the top clubs. We went further than we could to try and attract the player and he accepted it. But we would not register him due to the salary limits.

"We have to abide by the rules. We want them to be flexible but that's not an excuse. We knew the rules and regulations, we could not abide by it because of the previous board of directors.

"Leo deserves everything. He proves he love Barca. He has his roots at Barcelona and if he would allow me a personal thought, I'm sad. But I am convinced we have done the best in the interests of Barcelona."

He continued to shower praise on the Barca legend, saying: "Leo's legacy is excellent. Leo has made history. He is the player with the most success in the history of the club. He's been there during an era which has been splendid, the best era in Barca's history up until today.

"I hope we can overcome this situation. A new era starts now. There is a before and after Leo as there was with other greats in the history of Barca. I was there for Johan Cruyff and Messi goes along those lines."

thou

Featured Image Credit: Sky Sports/PA

Topics: SPORT, Barcelona, Lionel Messi, Joan Laporta, La Liga

Jack Kenmare
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