Lionel Messi agreed in principle to take an enormous pay cut in order to remain at Barcelona – but his vastly-reduced salary would still have breached La Liga rules
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Lionel Messi was willing to make an eye-watering sacrifice in order to stay at Barcelona – yet the club were unable to meet La Liga rules prior to his exit.
Barca confirmed on Thursday evening that Messi, 34, will end his 21-year stint in Catalonia due to “financial and structural obstacles”.
The Blaugrana stressed “the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today”, but blamed La Liga regulations for the Argentine’s exit.
While Messi agreed in principle to take an enormous pay cut in order to remain at Camp Nou, his vastly-reduced salary would still have breached the Spanish top flight’s rules.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was set to see his salary slashed by 50 per cent on his previous deal, which was worth £425million spread over four years.
This means the proposed five-year contract would have seen Messi’s weekly earnings reduced by £250,000.
But La Liga president Javier Tebas repeatedly warned Barcelona the new terms would still have breached the division’s financial fair play regulations.
“No, I won’t [turn a blind eye] for Messi, it’s impossible,” Tebas told Spanish outlet Marca last month.
“There are many workers [at LaLiga] and in the economic control [department] as well. This is a right that the clubs have and we have to safeguard the integrity of La Liga.
“We often have to explain [the economic controls] to agents and players because they don’t know about it or think clubs are deceiving them, and we’ve had to explain it in recent years.”
Tebas also outlined his desire for Messi to stay in La Liga – but insisted this could only happen if the forward’s proposed salary was reduced further.
He added: “We’ll have to analyse everything properly, because if there are dismissals for economic reasons but then they bring in Messi and others… we’d have to look into that.
“Right now I can only give my opinion, and that is that it is odd that there has been no offer [for Messi] from Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.
“And I firmly believe there isn’t and that the player wants to stay.”
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Despite Tebas and Messi’s shared desire for the latter to stay on at Barcelona, he is now set to join a new club for the first time in his senior career.
Paris Saint-Germain are the leading contender to sign the Argentina captain, while a reunion with his former manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City has also been mooted.
Barcelona, meanwhile, said they “wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life”.