A series of banners attacking Barcelona president Joan Laporta for his role in Lionel Messi‘s departure were hung outside Camp Nou ahead of the club’s first game of the LaLiga season against Real Sociedad.
Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain this week after Barca were unable to register a new contract for the forward under LaLiga’s strict salary cap rules, after his previous deal expired in June.
“Messi in Paris, you in Ibiza!” one of the banners read, criticising Laporta’s holiday break on the island this week.
Others read “Barca yes, Laporta no” and “Barca isn’t your business” as well as “Laporta, liar.”
“Laporta Judas. You deceived D10s” one banner said. Messi was known as ‘God’ — or Dios in Spanish — by Barca fans, and wore the No. 10 shirt.
Most pointedly of all, a banner hung just metres from Camp Nou called Laporta a “lackey of Florentino,” referring to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
Former Barca board member Jaume Llopis claimed this week that Perez had helped convince Laporta to reject LaLiga’s deal with investment fund CVC Partners to inject up to €2.7 billion into the league, which could have helped Messi to stay.
Perez released a statement this week denying “any influence” on Messi’s exit, “nor any other decision of FC Barcelona.”
Laporta was chosen by club members as Barcelona president in March — having previously been in charge at the club from 2003 to 2010 — when he won elections to replace Jose Maria Bartomeu, who had resigned in October 2020.
He was victorious in those elections by a significant margin and came to office promising to sort out the club’s finances, presenting himself as the candidate best-placed to convince Messi to stay.
However, Laporta subsequently said the club was “in a worse state than I expected” — and Messi’s departure this week was a serious blow to his reputation.
Barcelona’s financial problems have seen their overall spending limit on wages for players and coaching staff drop from over €600 million in 2019-20 to around €200 million now. That made it impossible for the club to register an agreed new five-year deal with Messi.
One of the club’s captains, Gerard Pique, had to accept a substantial pay cut this week to allow them to register new signings Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia in time for their first match of the season, hosting Real Sociedad on Sunday evening.
Barca won the match against La Real, 4-2.