Ronald Koeman insists his work has been paramount in saving Barcelona, but his relationship with club president Joan Laporta is yet to fully recover.

The Catalan club underwhelmed in Koeman's first term last campaign, finishing third – seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid – in LaLiga and exiting at the Champions League's last-16 stage to Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca's problems were further compounded in August, amid financial difficulties and complications with LaLiga, when Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi departed on a free and several players had to take pay cuts to allow registration of new signings.

However, despite Koeman's seemingly fragile relationship with Laporta, who went on an unsuccessful managerial replacement search in June, the Dutchman is enjoying his time at Camp Nou as he looks ahead to a potential new contract.

"It has improved a bit [the relationship with Laporta]," Koeman told NOS. "But when you let things blow a bit as a club and are not clear about the future of a coach, then you get speculation.

"And if you are the one who is the coach, then that is not a nice case.

"Last week there was also something in the media, which I think was not right. That again suggests that the trainer does not have full power.

"He said a little too much. That can be done in private. I like it when a president is committed and also asks questions. Only that it should not be in the press, that was the problem.

"Laporta was not wise on two occasions, let me put it this way. We are also in contact about a new contract now. Thanks to me, this club has a future.

"I see a lot of potential. I am open to stay here, I am enjoying myself here."

Koeman's new-look team, in the absence of Messi, have picked up seven points from their first three matches, with Barca utilising the most under-21 players in their Spanish top-flight matchday squads so far (eight).

Indeed, the former Netherlands manager revealed academy products will always get chances under his stewardship as he warned Barca's financial struggles will have a knock-on impact on their competitiveness in Europe.

"It's not just Pedri," Koeman continued. "There are still four or five players aged 18 or 19 who will be fantastic players for this club in three or four years.

"Accepting things and not being able to do things that maybe they [the club] should. That's the moment. Focus on the youth and give them a chance.

"Barcelona is in debt and therefore has to deal with fair play in Spain. The best players cannot come to Barcelona because they have higher contracts and cost a lot of money, which the club does not have.

"Sportingly, this club will always be good. The question is, can you get back to the level where you will really win Champions Leagues and be the best in Spain for years in a row? That is not the case at the moment. Let's hope that it will come again."

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has been accused by LaLiga chief Javier Tebas of "psychologically kidnapping" Barcelona in recent years.

Tebas has previously criticised Barcelona for supporting a proposed Super League, which failed to get off the ground as a backlash quickly led to the withdrawal of nine of the 12 founding members.

The 59-year-old also more recently hit out at Barca and Madrid for rejecting a €2.7billion arrangement with CVC Capital Partners, a deal that he argued would have allowed the Catalan giants to keep hold of Lionel Messi.

In the latest exchange between two of the most powerful men in Spanish football, Tebas has now claimed Perez swayed Barcelona counterpart Joan Laporta's decision to not accept the offer on the table.

"I have the feeling that at Barca there's a 'psychological kidnapping' regarding Florentino, like an inferiority complex," Tebas told Sport. 

"Florentino is a very intelligent guy and Jose Angel Sanchez, his director general, is the most empathetic man in European football. 

"All that glamour and know-how, up against someone (Laporta) who's been outside the world of football for more than 10 years.

"Barca were in favour of the CVC deal right until Real Madrid said no... In the last 72 hours everything changed. I think it was very much connected to the Super League and the strategy that Real Madrid are following."

Years of financial mismanagement caught up with Barcelona last month when they were unable to offer a new contract to Messi due to LaLiga's financial restrictions.

However, Tebas has reiterated that Barca could well have kept hold of Messi – who has since joined Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent – had they signed up to the CVC investment.

"Yes, it could have been avoided," he said. "I spoke about it with Laporta personally... I think next season with the figures Barca put out, we'll see if Messi could really have stayed or not.

"It wasn't a financial decision. I know that for sure. If Laporta shook hands with Messi, it was because for a month he had accepted the CVC offer. 

"He was in favour for a month. That's why he said things were going well. He even called me twice to speed up the CVC operation, because Messi was getting nervous."

Losing six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi to Ligue 1 giants PSG is a major blow for LaLiga, even more so than the previous high-profile exits of other big name players and coaches in the view of Tebas.

"Just like when Cristiano Ronaldo, Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho left. We knew that one day this would happen," he said.

"We have had the great luck of having the two best footballers in the world in the two best teams in the world and from LaLiga we have been able to take advantage of this to put ourselves on the world front line. 

"Perhaps Messi's departure has been a bit more painful, because personally I consider him the best in history, and he didn't deserve to leave like that, not only for Barça but for LaLiga as well."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin would not mind if Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona quit the Champions League after the trio "tried to kill football".

Juve, Madrid and Barca were three of 12 clubs announced as founding members of the Super League in April, along with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid.

However, the contentious project failed to get off the ground as a backlash quickly led to the withdrawal of all six English teams involved, followed by Atleti, Milan and Inter.

All 12 founding Super League members quit the European Club Association (ECA) before the competition collapsed, but nine of the rebel clubs have since been welcomed back.

Madrid and financially stricken LaLiga rivals Barca retain a commitment to the ill-fated collaboration, as do Serie A giants Juve, yet each of those teams will compete in the Champions League when the group stage begins next week.

Taking aim at the presidents of the three breakaway clubs, Andrea Agnelli, Florentino Perez and Joan Laporta, Ceferin told Der Spiegel: "These three clubs simply have incompetent leaders. Those guys have tried to kill football.

"I would not mind if those teams left. It is very funny that they want to create a new competition and at the same time they want to play in the Champions League this season."

Speaking in April, Super League president Perez argued the competition would be the saviour of football as clubs struggled to adjust to the financial problems brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Just four months on, though, Madrid tabled three offers for Kylian Mbappe, who is into the final year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, with the third of the rejected bids reportedly worth up to €200million.

"He is criticising UEFA and saying that the club can only survive with a Super League, then he tries to sign Mbappe," Ceferin said of Perez.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has insisted Lionel Messi could not have remained at Camp Nou, even with Antoine Griezmann leaving and the club's captains reducing their wages amid mounting debt.

Barca's financial issues – the LaLiga giants' debt has risen to €1.35billion – led to the shock departure of superstar Messi to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

Gerard Pique accepted a substantial pay cut and fellow captains Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto followed suit to ensure the likes of Sergio Aguero could be registered for the new season, while Griezmann completed a sensational return to Atletico Madrid on deadline day.

However, six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi remaining at Camp Nou was impossible, according to Laporta.

"What happened is what has been explained," Laporta told Esport3. "There are objective data. Everyone can compare. We were pressured that we would either sign the CVC loan [deal] or there is no fair play.

"There was no margin. There was a pre-agreement and we had shaken hands. There were several agreements and LaLiga seemed to accept it, but then they said no without CVC. We didn't think that the situation was going to improve and we put an end to it.

"Messi could not have stayed even with Griezmann's [departure] and with the salary reduction of the captains. But it is important that we have lowered the salary cap because next year we can be more ambitious.

"I think we were both sad because the situation was not what we wanted. I have not spoken with Messi since. I saw his debut with PSG and it was strange to see him at another team, rivals. I did not like seeing him in another shirt."

Laporta added: "The reduction [of the expenditure] is important – we have gone from 110 to 80 per cent. I want to congratulate the executives and the financial department of Barcelona for their work, and all those who have worked tirelessly and extraordinarily.

"And we have some heroes in Pique, Alba, Busquets, and we will seal [the deal with] Sergi Roberto.

"What they have done is admirable. They are committed to the club, to the members. It is admirable. And we will continue with other players, such as [Samuel] Umtiti and others from the first team. We are in a process that is not easy.

"First the captains have set an example, and now we will continue with others."

Ronald Koeman's Barca have made an unbeaten start to the 2021-22 campaign, winning two of their opening three LaLiga fixtures to be level on seven points with leaders Real Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia, Atletico and Mallorca.

"I like Koeman," said Laporta. "We won the game against Getafe. They are not easy games."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has once again hit out at predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu after revealing the LaLiga club's debt has risen to €1.35billion.

The Catalan giants' financial problems have been well documented since it emerged in January that their total debt had exceeded the €1.1bn mark.

Barca's money issues have led to the shock departure of Lionel Messi on a free transfer, while Gerard Pique has accepted a substantial pay cut and fellow captains Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto are set to follow suit.

But years of what Laporta described as mismanagement by the previous board have caught up with Barca, as he laid out the true scale of their debt on Monday - including some remarkable allegations.

"When we took over we asked for a bridge loan of €80m, granted by Goldman Sachs because we would not have been able to pay the salaries of players and employees," he said.

"The previous board had received an advance of €79m relating to 50 per cent of LaLiga's television rights and the banks charged it at nine per cent interest.

"The reduction of wages by the previous board was not real. We have found those millions in different types of bonuses and variables included in the new contracts. 

"We have found disproportionate payments to intermediaries, not agents, a transfer that cost €40m and for a purchase premium we paid €8m and a sale premium of €2m. 

"A person was also paid €8m to find players in South America."

Laporta called a news conference to respond to an open letter issued by Bartomeu on Friday which effectively pointed the finger of blame for Messi's exit at the current incumbent.

Breaking down the letter into what he alleges are eight different lies, Laporta said: "It obeys an effort to justify management that is unjustifiable. 

"It is an exercise in despair. We have a salary bill that represents 103 per cent of the club's total income. It represents 20-25 per cent more than our competitors.

"No one is going to escape from those responsibilities. The economic situation is worrying and the financial situation is dramatic. 

"Barcelona has a net worth of minus €451m and a debt of €1.35bn."

In his lengthy letter, Bartomeu – who stepped down as Barca chief in October 2020 after nearly seven years in the role – questioned why Barca reached an out-of-court settlement with former player Neymar over money owed.

"He talks about Neymar," Laporta said. "He says that we have forgone €16.7m. That's another lie, it is not true. And you could remind Bartomeu of the damage that the Neymar case did to the image of Barca. Because it was an infinity of lies. 

"When he sold Neymar for €222m, they had already spent disproportionately. This triggered wages and amortisation."

Pique's decision to accept a reduced salary ensured Barca could register new signings Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia for their opening LaLiga game of the campaign on Sunday.

"I thank Pique for his willingness to help the club. His reduction has helped us to register players," Laporta added. "We can register Sergio [Aguero] with the agreement we plan to have with the other players. I hope the other captains act like Pique.

"The negotiations with the others are going well. Alba, like Busquets and Sergi Roberto, is behaving very well and we hope that we will reach an agreement soon. As soon as we can, we will acknowledge it."

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has accused successor Joan Laporta of badly managing the club's finances as the fallout surrounding Lionel Messi's departure continues.

Bartomeu, who stepped down as Barca chief in October 2020 after nearly seven years in the role, also questioned why Barca reached an out-of-court settlement with former player Neymar over money owed in an open letter to his successor.

Laporta pointed the blame at Barca's former board for leaving the club in such a bad financial mess that they were not able to fulfil an agreement with star player Messi over a new long-term deal.

However, commenting on Messi's high-profile exit for the first time, Bartomeu has insisted his planned economic measures would have helped Barcelona through the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as he switched the focus of the blame to Laporta.

"As is known, our board of directors planned to call elections on March 21, within the statutory period at the end of our mandate, which would have allowed us to take on and carry out the settlement of the 2020-21 season accounts," Bartomeu said. 

"We would then have taken the decisions necessary to avoid arriving at the current financial situation.

"We would have been the only ones responsible for the closure [due to the pandemic] and its consequences, a decision that the new board has not taken throughout these past months, making clear their inaction."

Bartomeu went on to suggest that the club could possibly have stayed within LaLiga's salary cap limit, and therefore prevented Messi from joining Paris Saint-Germain, had they accepted external support.

"From April 2020 we began the Barcelona Corporate project, consisting, in summary, of the entry of four strategic partners," Bartomeu said.

"If [Laporta's] board had approved the [Barcelona Corporate] project, it would have meant a capital injection of at least 220 million euros with the aim of reducing the income losses caused by COVID...which in 2020-21 could be 375 million.

"If to those 220 million euros we had added the necessary 20 per cent salary reduction (90 million euros) from the players' contracts, essential from March 21, 2021, when the worst expectations were confirmed, the salary ratio dictated by LaLiga would have been complied with, allowing for players to be registered."

Bartomeu then switched focus to the recent news that Barcelona had reached an amicable agreement to end their long-running dispute over Neymar's move to PSG in a world-record €222million transfer in August 2017.

The Brazil international had claimed he was owed €43.6million in unpaid bonuses by Barca, but the LaLiga giants counter-sued for a breach of contract and a judge ruled in the club's favour, ordering Neymar to pay €6.7m.

Bartomeu added: "Also surprising is his decision to forgive former player Neymar in the framework of a litigation where the expectations in favour of FC Barcelona were quite clear and the auditor did not oblige, in any case, to supply any amount.

"Why did you make this decision contrary to the interests of the club?"

Ronald Koeman proclaimed Lionel Messi to be the "best player in the world" after it was confirmed the Barcelona legend will be leaving the club.

Messi enjoyed an outstanding career at Camp Nou, scoring 672 times in 778 appearances, but his time with the LaLiga giants ended abruptly this week due to Barca's dire financial situation.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was expected to sign a new contract, having become a free agent on July 1, before Thursday's announcement shocked the football world.

Koeman, who managed the forward during the 2020-21 campaign, joined a host of football's big names in paying tribute to Messi.

"Still hard to understand that you will not play for [Barcelona] anymore," the head coach wrote on Instagram. "Thanks for everything you have done for our club. I really enjoyed the full season we worked together.

"I am impressed with your work ethic and desire to win. It makes you the best player in the world. For now, I wish you and your family the best!"

With Messi expected to move to Paris Saint-Germain, Koeman must prepare for life without the four-time Champions League winner.

Memphis Depay and Antoine Griezmann will have incredibly large shoes to fill in the 2021-22 campaign, while Barca players past and present used social media to praise their former team-mate.

Gerard Pique, who won the treble with Messi in his first season back at the Catalan club, posted on Instagram that "nothing will ever be the same again" following the end of an era.

"Now you are leaving, but I know that one day you will come back," the centre-back continued. "There are pending things to do. Have fun, enjoy wherever you go and keep winning as only you know how to do. Here we will miss you. I love you Leo."

Luis Suarez, formerly part of the formidable trio with Messi and Neymar, pipped Barca to the title with Atletico Madrid last term but he too revealed his admiration for the "best player ever".

"I will always be grateful for how you received me since I arrived because of what a great human being you are," Suarez wrote.

"Proud to have shared thousands of wonderful moments at [Barcelona] and to be lucky to have played with you. I sincerely hope that what happens in the future is the best for you and your family. I love you so much."

Despite only playing for two campaigns with Messi, Barca youngster Ansu Fati used his Instagram account to say farewell to his captain.

"All the boys who come to the Masia dream of being able to play with you, I feel lucky to have fulfilled it," Fati posted. "I wanted to thank you these two years for your gestures of affection towards me and for everything I learned.

"[Messi] my family and I will always be eternally grateful, I wish you and yours all the best."

There were plenty of questions for Joan Laporta as he sought to explain Lionel Messi's Barcelona exit on Friday.

The morning after the night before, the Blaugrana president faced the media to give the club's stance on the failed contract talks that mean their talisman is heading elsewhere.

Laporta spoke for an hour and 20 minutes and covered a wide range of topics relating to Messi, Barca’s finances and the restrictions in place in LaLiga.

Stats Perform brings you 10 key quotes from an exhaustive news conference...

'The decision is over'

It was a blunt answer. Laporta had not come to the news conference to give Barca fans what he described as "false hope".

"The decision is over," he said. "It's done."

'Leo is not happy'

Nobody involved with Barca is happy with the outcome – including Messi himself.

"Leo wanted to stay, so he's not happy. We all wanted him to stay," Laporta explained. "For him, right now, it's a situation in which he has to confront reality. It is a reality that can't be changed. He knows that I wish him the best wherever he goes, him and his family. Barca is his home. He's enlarged this club's trophy list and we'll always be thankful."

'He tried to make it easy for us'

No blame was laid at the forward's door, with Laporta revealing two separate agreements between player and club – neither of which could work within LaLiga's regulations.

"We've been at it for two months and we've gone through different stages," Laporta revealed. "The first agreement was two years that would be paid in five years. Leo was in agreement with that. He was always present in negotiations and tried to make it easy for us. The first offer was two years of salary to be paid in five, and we thought that would be allowed in the regulations of fair play, but the criteria of cash came into play. It's not allowed here where it is in other countries. It's all part of a process.

"LaLiga also had its pressure because there are other clubs that want regulations and rules to be abided by.

"Then we agreed to a five-year contract, which was also accepted by Leo, even though we were all thinking of two more years. We all agreed: two years and, if he wanted more, we could sit and talk about it. We wanted the era post-Messi, the one we start today, to start in two years. Taking into account the circumstances, we've had to bring that forward. We all wanted to enjoy his talent, his magic playing at Barca, but at the moment it can't be. When we did the five-year contract that we thought would be allowed – and I had insinuated that this would be allowed – a technical analysis by the LaLiga commission found that this contract wouldn't be valid within those regulations."

'I said we would do everything'

Laporta had based much of his election campaign around the idea of keeping Messi at the club, but he did not regret this approach.

"I said this several times: I said that we would do everything possible for Messi to stay at Barca within the economical situation of the club," he said. "We reached an agreement with Messi, we just weren't able to formalise it."

'We don't have any margins'

Indeed, Laporta preferred to take aim at predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu due to the state of the club when he took over.

"We don't have any margin," began Laporta's opening statement. "We knew that when we got to the club, but the numbers that were presented to us after the first audit, and our analysis, those numbers are a lot worse than those exposed initially, which are what we are working with now."

He added: "An investment of that volume with the contract of Messi was risky. We wanted to assume those risks, but when we have realised the real situation at the club after the audit, it means that we would have put the club at great risk."

'They have not given us satisfactory answers'

Bartomeu was not the only individual criticised, though, with Laporta repeatedly highlighting issues with a deal LaLiga have done with CVC Capital Partners, which will see the private equity firm acquire 10 per cent of the league's commercial business for €2.7billion.

LaLiga chief Javier Tebas posted on Twitter during the news conference to query Laporta's suggestion the agreement would impact broadcasting rights.

Informed of the post, Laporta replied: "I will tell you that we do not interpret it that way. In fact, yesterday our senior executives spoke with those who run this operation and they have not given us satisfactory answers. I understand the legal formulas that you articulate, because they are ingenious, but this implies giving up a part of our rights with a horizon of half a century. In addition, I would tell you that the amount set by CVC is much lower than what, for us, the 10 per cent of LaLiga should be valued."

'Those are personal conversations'

Laporta was far more guarded over conversations he might have had with Tebas as LaLiga's best player departs the competition.

"Those are personal conversations," he said. "I can't disclose them."

'The player has had other offers'

Laporta insisted he does not know where Messi will go next, but he suggested there had already been contact from rival clubs.

"During the course of negotiations, we've known that the player has had other offers," he said. "And there was a time limit – both for us, because of LaLiga starting shortly, and for them as well, because he needs some time. As fair play continues to be rigid, the player also needs some time to see what he's going to do and evaluate his situation and look at other options."

Laporta added: "He's the best player in the world and logic takes you to think that he has other very good offers."

'The tribute that Leo Messi deserves'

Messi has been on holiday in Ibiza, while his father flew in for discussions this week, but Barca hope to be able to pay tribute to their legendary number 10 in future.

"The tribute for Leo Messi will be the tribute that Leo Messi wants, whatever he likes, whatever he wants to do," Laporta confirmed. "If it was up to us, we'd pay tribute to Leo Messi every day for what he's done for Barca. With the circumstances we're in right now, in terms of the pandemic, in terms of the economic situation, in terms of the pre-season, that makes it complicated. I hope that one day we can see the tribute that Leo Messi deserves."

'We're starting a new era'

For now, the focus at Camp Nou must be on the new season, with a squad learning to play without their stalwart superstar.

"Everyone was waiting for Leo to go to the dressing room and start training," Laporta said of the squad. "I had to tell them it's not going to happen. We're starting a new era and it has to be successful. They're the protagonists of that. They have to make us proud and they need to prove that we can win without players of the talent of Leo Messi, who's the most talented player in the world."

Barcelona have not ruled out signing a replacement for Lionel Messi despite their financial constraints.

Messi will not return for the 2021-22 season, Barca announced on Thursday, with a new deal unable to fit within LaLiga's salary restrictions.

President Joan Laporta, explaining the collapsed negotiations on Friday, confirmed new recruits Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, Emerson Royal and Memphis Depay could be registered, though.

And despite a desperate financial situation, which Laporta said was "a lot worse than exposed initially", there could yet be a further arrival to help plug the gap left by Barca's greatest ever player.

"No, the first team squad isn't done, isn't closed," the president said. "The market closes on August 31, so lots of things could happen."

Barca already appear well stocked in attacking areas, with Aguero and Depay boosting a forward line that includes Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho.

Martin Braithwaite and Rey Manaj – the Barcelona B striker – have both played and scored for the Blaugrana in pre-season.

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland was also linked early in the transfer window, although the Bundesliga outfit are highly unlikely to accommodate a sale Barca could afford.

Lionel Messi is "not happy" at the failure to agree a new contract with Barcelona, according to Joan Laporta, who signalled the start of a "new era" for the club.

Messi had appeared set to agree fresh terms at Camp Nou after becoming a free agent at the end of last season.

But Barca announced on Thursday "economic and structural obstacles" had prevented them from retaining their greatest ever player, unable to fit his salary within LaLiga's restrictions.

Speaking to the media on Friday, club president Laporta revealed he "made the decision that I had to say this was enough" on Wednesday before a "last conversation" with Messi's father Jorge.

He explained: "What we can't do is just keep prolonging the agony, making things longer."

Asked what Messi had made of the development, Laporta replied: "Leo wanted to stay, so he's not happy. We all wanted him to stay.

"For him, right now, it's a situation in which he has to confront reality. It is a reality that can't be changed.

"He knows that I wish him the best wherever he goes, him and his family. Barca is his home. He's enlarged this club's trophy list and we'll always be thankful."

Laporta has also spoken to the Barca squad, revealing he addressed them in person on Friday to outline a future without their talisman.

"It was very important to do that," he said. "I had already talked to the captains by telephone.

"I thought it was very important, as we reached this point in negotiations with Leo. Everyone was waiting for Leo to go to the dressing room and start training.

"I had to tell them it's not going to happen. We're starting a new era and it has to be successful. They're the protagonists of that.

"They have to make us proud and they need to prove that we can win without players of the talent of Leo Messi, who's the most talented player in the world."

Laporta added: "I think this was an important moment. I saw the captains' faces. I asked them to give extra from themselves.

"I want the team spirit to be high, very strong. The captains need to lead by example. They need to lead the process for this new era.

"We're bringing in these young players who are proving to be very talented, and the new signings, we need to explain to them that Barca is a club of 122 years of history.

"We've gone through different moments, different eras. This is their opportunity now. From north to south, from east to west, they'll have all the support from the club to be successful."

On discussions with head coach Ronald Koeman, Laporta said: "I talked to Ronald. He's a man of the club, a great professional.

"He has the ability to adapt quickly to new situations and he said that, obviously, we're going to go for everything, we're going to go at it.

"Not having a player like Messi will obviously be difficult to replace, but he's motivated.

"He's integrated in the club and he wants this new era to be splendid, to be successful. He and the players need to be protagonists in that."

Lionel Messi already had offers from other clubs after becoming a free agent and Barcelona president Joan Laporta is unwilling to offer "false hope" of a resolution.

Barca sensationally announced on Thursday their greatest ever player would not be returning to the club.

Messi's contract had expired at the end of last season, but a new deal was anticipated ahead of the new campaign, with an announcement reportedly imminent this week.

The tone of reports in Spain changed on Thursday, however, and Barca soon confirmed they were unable to do a deal due to "economic and structural obstacles" as any agreement could not fit within LaLiga's salary restrictions.

Laporta faced the media on Friday and, after an opening statement in which he blamed the developments on the dire financial situation left behind by previous president Josep Maria Bartomeu, he suggested there was no possibility of resurrecting talks with Messi.

"The decision is over," Laporta said. "It's done."

He explained: "I don't want to generate false hope. During the course of negotiations, we've known that the player has had other offers.

"And there was a time limit – both for us, because of LaLiga starting shortly, and for them as well, because he needs some time.

"As fair play continues to be rigid, the player also needs some time to see what he's going to do and evaluate his situation and look at other options.

The suggestion Messi could lower his demands was put to the president, who replied: "Those are all hypothetical situations. They're not real as of today.

"If I'm here today, it's not because of what may or may not happen. I wanted to be here with Leo today. It was the dream of every Cule, but we have to live in the real world.

"I like to dream but we have to live in the reality that this is what happens. I can imagine a lot of things, there are a lot of things I would like to happen, but right now that is not easy."

Asked where he wanted to see Messi play next, Laporta said: "I would like to see Leo Messi play at Barca, but whatever is done is up to him. You have to ask him. I will not answer that."

Pressed on Paris Saint-Germain's potential interest, he added: "I don't know that, but it is always said that they have options."

Barca's salary status has restricted the registration of all new players, which included Messi as a free agent.

But Laporta explained the club's close-season signings – Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, Emerson Royal and Memphis Depay – had agreed to favourable terms Barca could accommodate.

"People ask, 'Why can we sign Kun? Why can we sign Emerson? Why can we sign Memphis?' Because these are players that come to Barca accepting certain conditions in terms of salary," Laporta said. "We have to thank them for that.

"The arrival of one of these players isn't comparable to what it would have meant to formalise those agreements with Leo Messi in terms of fair play."

Asked if all four players could be registered, he added: "Regarding our calculations, yes. If we'd inscribed the deserved salary of Messi, that is obviously different to the salaries we are talking about now.

"I hope there will be no problems, because these players have made an effort."

Barcelona keeping Lionel Messi would have put the club at great risk according to Joan Laporta, who criticised both the previous regime and also LaLiga in a powerful media conference.

The Spanish club sensationally announced on Thursday that Messi would not be continuing at Camp Nou, despite agreeing terms on a new contract.

A short statement revealed how "financial and structural obstacles" made a deal impossible, despite an injection of funds stemming from the league signing an investment and revenue-sharing deal with CVC Capital Partners, who will hold a 10 per cent stake.

Barca joined rivals Real Madrid in denouncing the plan, with Laporta unwilling to mortgage the long-term future of the club by accepting the restructure, even if that meant ruling out retaining Messi.

The club's president also discussed how the Josep Maria Bartomeu regime had created serious financial problems, even greater than he initially thought following a thorough audit.

"We don't have any margin. We knew that when we got to the club, but the numbers that were presented to us after the first audit, and our analysis, those numbers are a lot worse than those exposed initially, which are what we are working with now," Laporta said in his opening statement to the media on Friday.

"That means that the losses are a lot more elevated than expected, we are spending a lot more than we expected and the current contracts mean that we have this salary of great magnitude, allowing us no margin.

"This is all tied to fair play, the financial fair play in LaLiga meant we couldn't fit in the first contract we had agreed to with Lionel Messi.

"In order to have that fair play, Barca had to agree to an operation that would affect the club for the next 50 years, in terms of television rights [the CVC deal].

"That has meant that as I've had to make a decision, I can't make one to affect the club for the next 50 years, the club is over 100 years old, it's above everyone, everything – even the best player in the world, the best player who has been with us for years, and we will always thank him for what he's done for us."

Laporta made clear that Messi had wanted to remain with Barcelona, with reports suggesting the Argentina superstar was willing to take a 50 per cent pay cut.

However, LaLiga president Javier Tebas made clear in recent weeks that the governing body would not relax financial rules just to keep the competition's biggest name.

"The reasons why we have decided to get to this point of negotiations is that there are objective reasons regarding the economical situation of the club," Laporta continued.

"An investment of that volume with the contract of Messi was risky. We wanted to assume those risks, but when we have realised the real situation at the club after the audit, it means that we would have put the club at great risk.

"The salary has a great deal to do with that, after a calamitous situation that was down to the previous board of administrators. If we terminate the current contacts, that also has risks, the only way to have that salary margin right now, was to accept that operation. We can go into details, but it’s an operation that puts at risk the club for the next 50 years.

"We understand we can't do that. Leo wanted to stay at Barca, we wanted him to stay, the fact he wanted to stay was the first step that was made. That was a key factor - he wanted to stay."

Messi's future is unclear as the major European leagues all prepare for the start of a new season. A move to Manchester City was strongly rumoured a year ago when the 34-year-old pushed to leave, though it is unclear if the Premier League champions retain any interest in a deal at this time.

Paris Saint-Germain are the early favourites, with Laporta making clear negotiations are over with Barca as he looks to do what is best for the club in their current circumstances.

"I want to thank everyone who has been in the negotiations during the past few months, with all the little intricacies, there were a lot of aspects to be negotiated as well," Laporta said in closing.

"It needed to be compatible with fair play, be of a certain duration, and after all of this, there comes a moment when you need to say enough.

"You need to analyse it rigorously with a cold head and look at the numbers. In LaLiga, we have to abide by the rules, we feel they could be more flexible but that’s not an excuse. We knew we couldn’t abide by it due to the situation.

"Leo deserves everything – he has proven that he loves Barca, he has his roots here.

"I'm sad, but I'm convinced we've done the best for the club."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is optimistic Lionel Messi will sign a contract extension with the club but knows they must stay patient.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is now a free agent after his deal at Camp Nou expired on June 30.

According to reports, Messi has agreed a new five-year deal with the Blaugrana while accepting a substantial pay cut – although there has yet to be official confirmation.

Barca's significant financial difficulties are likely to mean other players must leave before Messi – or any of the club's new signings, including Sergio Aguero – can be registered.

Nevertheless, club president Laporta says negotiations are progressing well and is confident there will be a positive update in the near future.

"The professionals are doing their job well," he said. "We are very satisfied with how everything is progressing.

"But you know that it is a special market that requires patience, skill and sometimes some juggling.

"But I think, as the summer progresses, we will be able to give good news."

Messi has spent his entire playing career with the Catalan giants, for whom he is the all-time leading scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances.

The 34-year-old has also won 10 LaLiga titles with Barca since making his senior debut in 2004, as well as the Copa del Rey seven times and the Champions League on four occasions.

And he recently captured his first major international honour; captaining Argentina to Copa America glory following a 1-0 victory over Brazil in the final.

Talks between Lionel Messi and Barcelona over a new contract are "progressing adequately", according to Joan Laporta.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi, who has spent his entire senior career at Camp Nou, is now officially a free agent after his Barcelona deal expired at the end of June.

He has been linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain in the past, but the 34-year-old is widely expected to remain with the Blaugrana despite their financial problems.

However, Barca must first reduce their wage bill if they are to comply with LaLiga's financial fair play rules and offer Messi the deal he is holding out for.

Messi's club future is now back in focus after helping Argentina to Copa America success last week and Barca president Laporta remains hopeful terms can be agreed.

"[Messi's renewal] is progressing adequately," he told reporters during the presentation of Mago Pop's show 'Nothing is Impossible'.

"All the Catalans, Barcelona, Catalunya and the entire football world are happy because Leo won the Copa America.

"It is very exciting to see the best player in football history get excited about winning a title like this and he made all of us cry with joy.

"He is very happy, we are all happy. I am happy for Leo who has managed [to win the Copa America], together with his team-mates, and that Argentina are once again in the elite. 

"I am happy for Messi's family, for Argentina, for Barcelona who are recognised, admired and loved for having this bond with Leo."

 

Messi was again hugely influential for Barcelona last season, finishing as LaLiga's top scorer and managing 38 goals and 12 assists across all competitions.

Taking all competitions into account, he created 117 chances for others and netted a goal every 110.32 minutes. 

Full-back Jordi Alba was next on the list of the most chances created for Barca in 2020-21, teeing up 85 goalscoring opportunities.

Despite the speculation surrounding his club future, Messi carried his club form onto the international stage by inspiring Argentina to their first Copa America crown since 1993.

He scored four goals and chipped in with five assists to win his first piece of silverware for his country.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has stated the breakaway European Super League is "dead", deeming the controversial concept "impossible" after nine of the 12 clubs involved pulled out.

The announcement of the planned competition led to a huge backlash, including from governing bodies, rival clubs, fans, players and media, leading to the majority of the teams that had signed up making a quick U-turn.

UEFA issued fines to Atletico Madrid, Inter, Milan, and the six Premier League clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham - but a court ruling meant disciplinary proceedings against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus, the three founding members yet to cut ties with the Super League, had to be halted.

A preliminary injunction was granted by a judge in Spain, with the case heading to the European Court of Justice.

Barca president Joan Laporta recently said his own club will not apologise for "wanting to be the owners of our own destiny", while he also insisted the project remains very much alive.

However, speaking on a media call on Wednesday, Tebas made clear Barca are incorrect to make such an assessment, considering the mass exodus.

"I've spoken with Barca executives in recent days. They believe they should keep doing what they're doing and I think they're wrong," Tebas said. 

"The concept of the Super League is impossible. Nine of the twelve clubs have asked to dissolve the company they founded."

He added: "The model they're defending, without the English clubs... I think it's dead.

"Laporta says the courts have said they're in the right, but that's not true, it's one judge in Madrid and an injunction.

"I've tried to convince them that they're wrong and should work along other lines."

Tebas was also asked about Lionel Messi's future, making clear Barca will not be allowed any leeway in terms of LaLiga's salary cap to make sure the superstar remains at Camp Nou.

Barcelona have already been busy in the transfer market as they reshape their squad, adding forward duo Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay on free transfers, as well as centre-back Eric Garcia.

"LaLiga has its rules and Barca know that. They know that they have to lower their salary costs by a lot," said Tebas, who hopes to have stadiums 60 per cent full when the 2021-22 season begins, despite the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Messi is the same as Sergio Aguero or anyone else that they are adding. We will not make any exception for Messi to stay here."

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