Barcelona trying to keep Lionel Messi could have put the club at risk for 50 years, says President of Barcelona, Joan Laporta.
Messi, 34, is leaving because they could not afford to give him a new contract under La Liga’s salary limit.
A private equity firm wanted to invest in La Liga, which could have made signing Messi possible but would have meant Barca giving up some TV rights.
“I can’t make a decision that will affect the club for 50 years,” Laporta 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.”
Messi, Barcelona’s all-time leading goal scorer, had agreed to a new five-year contract on reduced wages – but the club still had to slash their wage bill to afford him, and were unable to do so.
“Leo wanted to stay, so he’s not happy,” Laporta said. “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.”
Laporta added that he did not want to give “false hope” on “hypothetical” ideas that would see keeping Messi possible. “This negotiation has ended,” he said.
Paris St-Germain has begun to explore the feasibility of signing Messi.