Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

I hoped Messi would offer to play for free: Laporta


Barcelona president Joan Laporta admitted yesterday he hoped Lionel Messi would change his mind about leaving the club and offer to play for free.

Messi joined Paris Saintgerma­in in August after Barca decided not to renew the Argentinia­n's contract due to La Liga's strict salary limits.

“There came a time when both parties saw that it would not be possible. There was disappoint­ment on both sides,” Laporta told Catalan radio station RAC1.

“He wanted to stay but they also had a lot of pressure because of the offer they had. They knew if he didn't stay, he would go to PSG.” Laporta continued: “I hoped Messi would do a u-turn and he would say he would play for free.

“I would have liked that and I would have been all for it. It is my understand­ing La Liga would have accepted it. But we cannot ask a player of Messi's stature to do this.” Laporta reiterated the club's atrocious financial situation meant they were unable to keep Messi on the same terms.

Barca recorded losses of 481 million euros ($556 million) last season, with a gross debt of 1.35 billion euros.

“We had the conclusion­s of the audit (on Wednesday) and the investment in Leo would have put us at risk,” said Laporta, who also suggested Barcelona could yet sign up to a deal with investment fund CVC Capital Partners.

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Lionel Messi

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