Barcelona president: keeping Lionel Messi was a ‘risky’ investment

Keeping Lionel Messi would be risky for Barcelona and even the greatest player in the world was not worth jeopardizing the club’s future, president Joan Laporta said on Friday.

Laporta blamed Barcelona’s previous administration for the club’s dire financial situation, which prevented him from integrating Messi’s new contract into the fair play rules of the Spanish league.

He said he hoped the league would have been more flexible with their rules, but understood they couldn’t make an exception even if it meant losing Messi.

“There are objective reasons regarding the club’s economic situation and an investment of this volume with Messi’s contract was risky,” Laporta said. “We wanted to assume these risks, but when we realized the real situation of the club after the audit, it meant that we would have put the club at great risk.”

He said Messi and the club had done everything they could to make the contract work, but that was not possible without hurting Barcelona’s finances.

“After all of this negotiating process, there comes a time when you have to say ‘enough’,” Laporta said. “You have to analyze rigorously with a cool head and look at the figures. And in the Spanish league, we have to follow the rules. We think they could be more flexible, but that’s no excuse, we knew the regulations. We couldn’t comply with it because of the inheritance we had.

Laporta said new funding recently secured by the league would have helped, but the club were against the deal as it would have hurt the team’s broadcast rights revenue for the next 50 years.

“We think Barcelona are above all else,” said Laporta. “The club is over 100 years old and is above everyone, even above the best player in the world. The club reviews the players, coaches, presidents.

The club announced on Thursday that Messi will not be staying with the club.

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