LIONEL MESSI has LEFT Barcelona after failing to agree a new contract with the La Liga giants.
The club confirmed in a statement that ‘economic and structural obstacles’ had prevented a deal being ratified by LaLiga.
Messi remains a free agent and leaves Barcelona having scored 672 times in 778 games, with his debut back in 2003.
Meanwhile Jack Grealish has officially sealed his British-record £100m transfer to Manchester City.
The England star signs a six-year deal at the Etihad, taking the No10 shirt vacated by Sergio Aguero.
Meanwhile the future of Chelsea target Romelu Lukaku is also to be decided, with the Inter star potentially set to move to Stamford Bridge this weekend.
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Follow ALL of the latest news and updates below…
ON PSG INTEREST
When asked who he wants to see Messi move to and where he’s moving to, Laporta says:
“I would like to see him play at Barca but whatever he does is up to him.
“You’ll have to ask him.
“I don’t know but it’s always been said that they have options [for Messi].”
Laporta calls the inheritance from the previous presidency disgraceful, with impossible debt.
And that is partly the reason for Messi’s exit.
CLUB IN DANGER?
“We need to rationalise the salaries and we need to boost the income.”
The fact that Laporta is publicly saying the club need to increase their income is very worrying for Barcelona fans.
It’s almost indicating that the club is in danger of going under.
MORE FROM LAPORTA
He thinks the players’ salaries should be 65-70% of income.
But it’s 95% without Messi.
But he says the losses aren’t purely down to salaries, again blaming decisions made in the previous presidency.
Laporta goes on to say there will be serious losses.
But he refuses to go into the exact numbers, but says they will be released at some point.
MORE FROM LAPORTA
Laporta is saying the salary of the players is 95% of the club income.
It means negotiations will be needed with players for them to accept reductions in their salaries.
Barcelona President Joan Laporta continues to be quizzed by the Spanish media.
“BARCA IS HIS HOME“
On whether Laporta has spoken to Messi:
“Leo wanted to stay, so he’s not happy.
“We all wanted him to stay but for him right now he has to confront reality.
“It’s a reality he can’t change and he knows I wish him the best wherever he goes, him and his family.
“And Barca is his home.”
SAYING IT HOW IT IS
When asked if the situation could have been dealt with differently, Laporta says:
“It could have been done better maybe.
“But I’m explaining it as it is.”
OVER THE LIMIT
Laporta explains that Barca are over the salary limit, even without Lionel Messi.
He says he has to abide by the rules of La Liga, even though La Liga want him in the league.
But they can’t make an exception for him because other clubs are abiding by the rules.
INSIDE THE ROOM
Laporta says: “My decision is that we can’t put the club at risk.”
ON THE SALARY SITUATION WITHOUT MESSI
“Everyone is working on the situation [salary situation].
“And now we have a little bit more margin to see if we can find a solution, but we’re at the limit.
“Even without Leo.
“Even without Leo we don’t have a margin.”
“Two days ago I reached the conclusion that we had to say enough, that we couldn’t do it.
“And yesterday we had our last conversations with Leo’s father.”
“With great sadness we have had to make a decision.
“What we can’t do is just keep prolonging the agony and making things longer.”
MORE FROM LAPORTA
“We couldn’t keep going with this [economic situation], and we needed to make a decision.
“And that’s what we did.”
Joan Laporta looks under pressure as he stands in front of the Spanish media and broadcasts to the world.
Laporta says they agreed a deal with Messi but it could not be finalised due to financial fair play.
The salary limit didn’t permit it.
He goes on to say decisions under the previous presidency were “awful” in terms of numbers, and the situation at the club is worse than feared.
“It’s obviously sad that the situation is what it is with Messi.
“We can’t pay homage to him in the way we would have wanted to in two years with fans in the stands.
“It could have been done a nicer way but the circumstances are what they are, so it’s very sad.”
LA LIGA CRITISCISM
“La Liga is not flexible in widening their salary limit.
“The club is over everything and we can’t effect those broadcasting rights for over half a century.”
SALARY MORE THAN INCOME
Laporta says that the salary at the club would be 110% compared to club income should Messi have stayed.
“To bring in £25million in salary we had to release £100million.”
The club were paying players too much on their salaries at a rate of 4:1.
Players have had to accept salary reductions and restructures.
“The only way was to accept La Liga’s operation, one that is not in Barca’s best interests.
He continues by saying that the club were offered money by the league in order to offer Messi a contract, but it would affect their TV money for years into the future.
And he says again the club is bigger than a player, and he couldn’t accept this offer.
“IT CAN’T BE”
“We all wanted to enjoy his talent, his magic playing at Barca.
“But at the moment it can’t be.”
“We’ve been at it for two months and we’ve gone through different stages.
“The first agreement was a two year contract to be paid over five years, and Leo was in agreement with that.
“He was always present and tried to make it easy for us.”
He goes on to explain La Liga financial fair play doesn’t allow this, so the club had no other option.
ON WHETHER THERE’S A CHANCE MESSI COULD STAY
“I don’t want to generate false hope.
“And during the course of negotiations we’ve known that the player has had other offers.”