Messi couldn't stay at Barcelona, we were 'in ruins' – Laporta

By Sports Desk January 05, 2023

Barcelona president Joan Laporta reiterated keeping Lionel Messi at the club in 2021 was impossible because the club was "in ruins" financially.

Having come through Barca's academy, Messi's departure ended a 21-year association and highlighted the seriousness of the club's economic issues.

Messi's contract expired at the end of the 2020-21 season, and although he technically became a free agent, it was widely assumed Barca would re-sign him to a new deal once room was made in the budget.

But Barca – whose debts were at €1.35billion in August 2021 – had their LaLiga salary cap slashed by €280million ahead of the 2021-22 campaign as a result of their financial problems.

As such, even with a 50 per cent wage reduction reportedly agreed, Barca still could not afford to sign Messi to a new deal, and Spanish employment law forbids employers decreasing wages beyond 50 per cent.

"I had to put Barca ahead of the best player in the history of football," Laporta told Cadena SER.

"In those moments of financial ruin I couldn't keep him. I think it was the best thing for the club."

Of course, Messi continues to be linked with a return to Barca with his Paris Saint-Germain contract set to expire at the end of the season.

Similarly, reports suggest Messi has already agreed an extension with PSG, the announcement simply delayed by his participation in – and time off after – the World Cup.

Laporta was not eager to anger PSG – with whom Barca share a frosty relationship – by speaking about Messi, though his regret about the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner not having a greater send-off might be interpreted by some as him hinting at a potential second chance.

"I prefer not to talk about Leo because he is a PSG player, as then [if I spoke about him] there are missiles that come from everywhere," he added. "We are focused on the players who are ours.

"Leo will always be part of our emblem, and I would like him to have a different ending to the one he had."

Related items

  • Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka targets FA Cup glory after penalty heroics Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka targets FA Cup glory after penalty heroics

    Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka set his sights on the trophy after his penalty shoot-out heroics helped Newcastle into the FA Cup quarter-finals.

    The Slovakian, who missed last weekend’s hammering at Arsenal due to illness, saved twice as the Magpies scraped past Championship Blackburn 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park on Tuesday.

    Dubravka denied Sammie Szmodics, who had cancelled out Anthony Gordon’s opener in normal time, and then touched the final kick of the night from Rovers captain Dom Hyam on to a post.

    The cup now appears to be sustaining Newcastle’s season given that their Champions League challenge has faded and Dubravka wants to bring major silverware to the club for the first time since 1969.

    “We are delighted to be there,” Dubravka told NUFC TV. “It was difficult match for us with chances on both sides. I’m really happy that we are there now.

    “We want to win the trophies, obviously, so we try to go for it. I think this could lift our confidence.

    “We needed a reaction after the Arsenal game and I think this was a great example. We need to build on this.

    “Obviously there were a couple of moments in the match that we did amazing, but also, on the other side, there were a couple of moments where have to do it better.

    “We are still in a learning process, but I think we are in a good place now.”

    Newcastle failed to make an impression in the first half and it was Blackburn who dominated, with the impressive Szmodics proving a handful.

    The balance changed after the break and Newcastle edged ahead after 71 minutes through Gordon, but Rovers roared back, with Szmodics tucking in after Dilian Markanday’s thunderous effort had been tipped on to the bar.

    Both sides had chances to win the game in normal and extra-time before it came down to the penalty shoot-out. The drama continued as Szmodics and Ashley Barnes both had efforts saved, but Dubravka had the final say.

    “Obviously you hope that you don’t go to the penalties because it’s a lottery,” Dubravka said. “You never know what’s going to happen there.

    “It’s the nerves. You can’t really prepare for this kind of situation. It’s personal behaviour and confidence.”

    Defeat was harsh on a Blackburn side whose performance belied their lowly position in the Championship, but manager John Eustace, who is still awaiting his first win after five games in charge, saw the positives.

    He said: “You could see the group are gelling as we want. It’s just small steps, but that’s the second time now we’ve come from behind at home.

    “The lads have shown me that they’re a good, young, hungry group with some good experience and we’ve just got to keep working hard.”

  • Football rumours: Arsenal keen for new striker amid Gabriel Jesus injury fears Football rumours: Arsenal keen for new striker amid Gabriel Jesus injury fears

    What the papers say

    According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal is on the hunt for a new striker and amid concerns over the injury record of Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus, they are shopping for other options with Brentford’s Ivan Toney, Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee and Sporting’s Viktor Gyokeres at the top of the list.

    Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson, 29, is the top target for Bayern Munich as they seek to replace Canada’s Alphonso Davies, who seems poised for a switch to Real Madrid, writes the Daily Mail.

    Liverpool are keen on nabbing 22-year-old Porto midfielder Alan Varela, says the Mirror.

    Social media round-upPlayers to watch

    Ethan Mbappe: As part of a deal to sign his older brother Kylian Mbappe, Real Madrid have also agreed to sign the France forward’s 17-year-old brother from Paris St Germain, according to OK Diario.

    David de Gea: Barcelona are considering a move for former Manchester United goalkeeper, writes Mundo Deportivo, with the 33-year-old currently a free agent.

    Omar Marmoush: The Egypt international is attracting interest from Newcastle United and Tottenham after the 25-year-old striker scored 10 goals in 18 games this season for Eintracht Frankfurt, reports Bild.

  • On this day in 2015: Peter Crouch equals Premier League record for headed goals On this day in 2015: Peter Crouch equals Premier League record for headed goals

    Peter Crouch equalled Alan Shearer’s record for headed Premier League goals on this day in 2015.

    The then 34-year-old nodded in a 71st-minute winner for Stoke in a 1-0 victory at Hull on February 28, 2015 for his 46th headed goal in the top flight.

    Crouch admitted afterwards that he had enjoyed proving wrong those who doubted his aerial ability.

    The 6ft 7in striker said: “There were a lot of people in the early days who said I was better on the ground than at heading, so it’s pleasing to rub it in a little bit.

    “A lot of people said, for my size, I wasn’t as good (at heading) as I should have been when I was younger. Becoming the record holder for headed goals in the Premier League is something I didn’t think would happen when I was 15 or 16.

    “I’m very proud – Alan Shearer’s a hero of mine. He’s one of the best, if not the best, striker the Premier League’s ever seen, and to equal any record of his, I’m very pleased with that.”

    Crouch passed the record on May 24 with another headed goal in Stoke’s 6-1 victory over his former club Liverpool to conclude the season and remains the record holder with 53.

    The striker moved from Stoke to Burnley in January 2019 and announced his retirement in July the same year.

    He ended his career with 108 Premier League goals, having also played for the likes of Tottenham, Portsmouth and Aston Villa, and netted 22 times in 42 appearances for England.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.