IMAGE: Lionel Messi was free to negotiate a transfer with other clubs after his deal ran out at the end of June, but Barcelona had always maintained he wanted to stay with the club. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images
FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta said on Friday that the club was unable to re-sign Lionel Messi as it had no margin to pay more under La Liga’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
Laporta said the club and Messi had both wanted to sign a new contract, but salaries already represent 110% of the club’s earnings, meaning it is spending much more than expected and such a move would be financially risky.
“The club is above everything — even above the best player in the world,” Laporta told a news conference.
Laporta said that the club had agreed two deals with Messi, firstly a two-year deal made payable over five, and then a five-year deal. However, they were unable to get the deal done because of La Liga’s FFP rules.
The Barca chief also said that the financial situation that he had inherited from former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu was “far, far worse” than anticipated.
“I said we’d do everything possible to keep Messi at Barca within the economic situation of club,” he said.
“We reached agreement but couldn’t formalise it, because of the club’s economic situation, which means we can’t register the player due to salary limits. I don’t want to go on and on about the situation we inherited, and the awful decisions that were made in the past. We have gone from bad to worse.”