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Barcelona chief admits Lionel Messi option was rejected before PSG transfer


Mateu Alemany, Barcelona’s director of football, has opened up about the events which led to Lionel Messi trading Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain over the summer

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Lionel Messi’s Barcelona departure was one of the transfer stories of the summer, but one of the Catalan club’s chiefs has disputed suggestions they were forced to part ways with the Argentine.

The Ballon d’Or winner left Camp Nou on a free, signing a two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain, and upon joining the French side he said “I did all that I could to stay, because I wanted to stay [at Barcelona ].”

Barcelona’s finances hampered their summer business, with the club forced to offload the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Miralem Pjanic on loan before Messi walked away.

Now the veteran Argentine is preparing for a Champions League meeting with Real Madrid after beginning to show some form for his new club.

However, rather than the decision being out of their hands entirely, fresh comments from director of football Mateu Alemany suggest the club did have an opportunity to keep Messi on board.

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Messi was in tears when he announced his Barcelona departure
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

“Unfortunately, Messi’s departure was not a surprise.,” Alemany told Marca in a cryptic statement.

It was the reality of the moment. The only way for him to stay was for Barça to join something that we did not want to join.

“We decided that the club was above any other person. We’ve lost a lot commercially.”

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He stressed Barcelona are still “working hard” when it comes to staying within their salary cap, though new signings were brought in during the January transfer window after Philippe Coutinho’s loan departure.

Messi had played more than 750 games for Barcelona before leaving the club, and top-scored for the club with 38 goals in his final season, but an agreement to keep him at the club could not be reached.

Without the Argentine in their ranks, Barca endured a tough start to the season which led to the dismissal of manager Ronald Koeman and elimination from the Champions League.

They are back in the top four under new manager Xavi, though their position in the Champions League spots is far from secure, and Alemany told Marca he would consider a failure to qualify for next year’s tournament “a disaster”.

“With this squad I do not consider not qualifying for next season’s Champions League,” he said, after the addition of the likes of Ferran Torres and Adama Traore during the January transfer window.

Messi has spent the season with PSG
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REUTERS)

While he didn’t name PSG specifically, Alemany also hinted at an uneven playing field when it comes to financial fair play.

“It is extremely important to implement financial ‘fair play’ in the clubs of Europe,” he said.

“In Spain it is very hard and strict. But in Europe there are clubs that clearly do not have the same criteria that we must follow. I ask for a standardized rule that everyone can follow.”

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