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After the announcement on Thursday that Lionel Messi is leaving FC Barcelona, President Joan Laporta addressed the media to explain the reasons why, insisting that both the club and the player had fully intended to continue their relationship.
“Leo wanted to stay at Barça and we wanted him to stay” reiterated the president. “He did everything he could to stay. His wish to stay was the first step to ensuring we could find the right way. We must thank everyone who has been negotiating between the club and the player. Leo deserves everything. He has demonstrated his love for the club.”
“The tribute to Leo Messi will be done the way he wants. We are paying homage to him every day, in return for everything he has done for us. We know about the current health and financial situation we’re facing, meaning it’s very hard for this to happen at Camp Nou right now, but there is time to do it. I hope Messi can be given the tribute he deserves at Barça."
“We have spoken a lot. First we reached a two-year agreement to be paid in five years. Leo agreed to it. He always wanted to stay and tried to make it easier. We thought it was in line with fair-play, but the ‘cash’ criterion here wouldn’t accept it. Then we agreed to a five-year contract and he agreed to that as well, but La Liga studied it and didn’t accept it either. There was a moment when La Liga insinuated to us that the proposed contract could suffice, but after a technical analysis by its financial commission, they then informed us that wouldn’t fully suffice either.”
“If I could make a personal assessment, I am sad. But we have done the best thing for the club. I would love to have appeared here with Leo beside me to announce that he is staying. That’s what everyone at Barça was dreaming of. I would have loved to have signed his final contract and Leo has done everything and more to make that happen. There is nothing to resent.”
“I think he and his family know that I wish him the best wherever he goes. Barça is his home. He has aggrandised the club like nobody. He is leaving behind an excellent legacy. He has made history. He has gathered more success than any other player in club history. He has led an age of splendour. He has been the best. He has made a mark. A new era begins, for there will always be a before and after Leo. Like Samitier, Kubala, Johan. Messi is another benchmark. He has created such joy, such shared hope and so much sporting success. These are images that will go down in history. At this club, we are eternally grateful."
“I have spoken to the captains on the phone. It is something historic to have reached this point and I wanted to tell them that we had all expected Leo to go into the dressing room and start training. I wanted to personally inform all the players that that was not going to happen. That a new era is beginning. That they are the protagonists who have to go out and show the world that we can win without a global talent like Leo in the team. I saw their faces. I told them that they now have to give it something extra. They need to generate a very strong team spirit and it is the captains who have to lead that by taking the young players, who’ve been doing so extraordinarily well, under their wings. They are totally motivated and fully support the club."
“I have also spoken to Ronald Koeman. Yesterday and today. He is a club man and a true pro who can adapt quickly to the circumstances. He told me they’d go full out. Obviously it’s a lot harder without a player who scores 30 goals a season, but they are motivated. He has once again shown how integrated he is with the club. He knows he can lead it.”
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