‘A new era starts now without Messi’ – Laporta explains Barcelona exit

Laporta also blamed the “awful” financial mismanagement of his predecessors and LaLiga‘s financial rules for the exit.

Asked if Messi could still stay for Barca, Laporta said: “I do not want to create false hope, this negotiation has ended. If fair play continues to be rigid, the player needs some time to see what he is going to do and evaluate his situation, look at other options.

“I’m sad but we did everything to keep Leo and he was prepared to stay at Barcelona, it was agreed. A new era starts now without Lionel Messi.

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“Leo wanted to stay, so he is not happy. We all wanted him to stay. He has to confront reality, it is a reality that can’t be changed. I wish him the best, Barca is his home.

“We have to live in the real world, I like to dream but right now we have to talk about the reality.”

Laporta, who was elected as president in March this year, said that he inherited a financial mess.

“I would like to say the inheritance we have received is awful,” said Laporta. “The salary mess is 110 per cent of the total income of the club.

“That means we have no flexibility. The situation is worse that we were told and what we had calculated based on official data.

“You have to leave feelings away, you have to look at numbers with a cold head. We wanted LaLiga to be more flexible but this is no excuse, we knew the rules and what we have been left with from the previous board makes it all impossible.”

Fans will hope that despite Laporta’s stance, there remains room for another U-turn in this long running saga and many wonder whether their announcement is simply an extreme exhibition in posturing.

LaLiga has have agreed to sell 10 per cent of its business to American private equity firm CVC in a 50-year deal, a deal which has been firmly rejected by Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The club statement, all three paragraphs of it, was laced with blame directed at LaLiga and their president, Javier Tebas.

Barcelona are in such financial trouble that they are still a long way short of the €200million of savings needed in order to register Messi or their new signings, including Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay, this summer.

Laporta said that Barcelona is bigger than any “coach, president or player” but will hope that that sentiment doesn’t wash in the slightest and that LaLiga realise Messi is bigger than the entire division itself, relaxes its rules and allows him to stay.

It is a faint hope: Tebas has been firm in his stance that no flexibility will be offered to Barcelona in order to keep LaLiga’s greatest asset. Messi has already held talks with Paris Saint-Germain manager, Mauricio Pochettino, and the French club believe they can afford a deal.

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