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Joan Laporta: ‘I chose Barcelona over Lionel Messi’

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has explained his decision to let club legend Lionel Messi join Paris Saint-Germain for free in 2021.

The club’s financial issues came to the fore in 2021, as they were unable to agree a deal with Messi despite his offering to take a 50% pay cut.

They have subsequently been forced to activate several financial levers to stay afloat.

Despite losing Messi’s services, Laporta told Mundo Deportivo he does not regret his decision.

“The institution (Barcelona) is above,” he said. “The situation was very complicated.

“I did not know how to do it, but I had to choose, and in this case, I chose the institution (Barcelona).”

The Argentine international moved to France. Now there are talks about him returning to the Catalans.

However, Laporta was coy on those links. “I refuse to talk about Messi’s return to Barcelona as a player out of respect for PSG and the player himself,” he added.

Laporta said he met with Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, to discuss a tribute to the player following his heroics at the 2022 World Cup.

While many people felt that the meeting between the Barca chief and Messi’s father was to discuss a return, it was about how the club could pay homage to the little magician.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has forced clubs in the Spanish top flight to stick to a strict financial policy.

He wants to keep the clubs financially sustainable by preventing them from living above their means.

Tebas has been vocal and critical of the Premier League. He has been firm in his stance against their spending, accusing them of distorting the market.

He remarked that Barcelona could not sign players in the January transfer window due to a La Liga ruling.

They will also be unable to sign anyone this summer if they cannot raise around €170 million.

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