Barcelona fans flocked to visit the Barca museum on Friday (August 6) a day after after the club announced the departure of star player Lionel Messi. Barcelona was forced to let Messi leave the club because his high wages coupled with strict La Liga financial rules could have jeopardized its future, President Joan Laporta said on Friday.
Both the club, which has suffered steep losses recently, and 34-year-old Messi had wanted to sign a new contract. But the Argentine’s deal would have taken salaries to 110% of the club’s earnings, a financially risky move given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Laporta said.
“I think he wanted to leave before and now he wanted to stay, but there weren’t the necessary conditions for him to stay, and we all are in mourning,” said Barca fan Adrian.
Messi had wanted to sign a new contract at Barcelona on reduced terms, reportedly 50% below his latest pay, but the club was unable to come up with an arrangement that also complied with the financial rules of Spain’s La Liga competition.
Messi’s last contract, signed in 2017, was the most lucrative in world sport according to a January report in newspaper El Mundo. Forbes has listed him as the athlete with the world’s second-highest earnings in 2021, at $130 million.
Barca fans took the time to pose with Messi’s trophies at the museum, including his six Ballon d’Ors. Messi, who joined Barcelona aged 13, has helped the club claim 10 league titles, four Champions Leagues and three Club World Cups during a glittering career.