Messi considers other offers, says Barcelona president


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Barcelona (AFP)

Barcelona’s negotiations with Lionel Messi are over and the striker is considering other offers, club president Joan Laporta said on Friday.

Laporta said in a press conference he was not ready “to put the club in danger” by renewing Messi’s contract as Barca face huge financial problems ahead of the start of La Liga.

“Yesterday we realized it was over. I had the last conversation with Leo’s dad,” Laporta said.

“I don’t want to give false hope. The player has other offers and there is a time limit as La Liga starts soon and he needs time to assess his other options.”

Messi struck a deal with Barcelona to sign a five-year contract, but with the compromise that he would earn 50% less per year.

But La Liga’s financial fair play rules, which are expected to lower Barca’s salary cap to less than € 200m this season, have led Laporta to conclude they were unable to close the deal. .

“We couldn’t accept Messi’s contract,” said Laporta, who was re-elected club president in March.

“The situation we have inherited is abominable and the sports payroll represents 110% of the club’s income. We have no margin on wages.

“La Liga rules set limits and we have no leeway. We have known the situation since we arrived, but the numbers we have seen are even worse than we thought.”

Barcelona have a total debt of almost 1.2 billion euros, more than half of which must be repaid in the short term.

Expensive signings like Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho, costing around € 300million combined, have fallen short.

La Liga earlier this week announced a deal with U.S. private equity firm CVC, which has pledged to sell 10% of the company for 50 years, in exchange for an immediate injection of $ 2.7 billion. ‘euros. Clubs from the top two Spanish divisions will receive 90 percent of the funds.

Laporta said Barca could have saved Messi by agreeing to the deal, but insisted it was a risk he was not prepared to take.

“We weren’t ready to endanger the club in this way,” Laporta said. “Barça had to be in favor of a contract which would mortgage our TV rights for half a century.

“I am not prepared to mortgage the club for anyone. We have an institution which is above everyone, even the best player in the world.”

Laporta said he felt “sadness and disappointment” but “did everything possible” to keep Messi, who joined Barcelona at the age of 13 and scored 672 goals in 778 appearances for the club.

The 34-year-old has won La Liga 10 times and the Champions League four times. He is also a six-time Ballon d’Or winner and widely regarded as the greatest player of all time.

“There is a before and an after Leo,” said Laporta. “Leo Messi has been an icon and left historic moments. We have eternal gratitude to him.”

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