Barça
Sports 14/08/2021

The war over the story of Messi's departure from Barça

The club accuses the player's father of setting last-minute conditions, while the player's entourage insist the deal was done

3 min
Joan Laporta, Leo Messi and Jorge Messi.

BarcelonaLeo Messi and his large family are looking for a house in Paris.A week after returning from holiday in Ibiza thinking that he would sign his new contract with Barça and that he would take part in the team's presentation on Gamper's Day, the Argentine has already started training with PSG, the club that, taking advantage of the hardships at Camp Nou, has quickly opened the doors for him to continue to aspire to win titles. He already hugs his friend Neymar Jr., who had been trying to return to Barcelona for years, or his evergreen opponent Sergio Ramos, who like him is leaving La Liga on a free transfer to join Nasser al-Khelaifi's Franco-Qatari giants.

Messi and his team digest the change of scenery from the luxurious Royal Monceau hotel, located in the centre of the French capital. Last Friday morning, the Rosarino star and his wife, Antonela, explained to their children that they had to leave Barcelona. This was detailed in a brief interview with the BBC just after being presented at Parc des Princes. Thiago, Mateo and Ciro received the news 24 hours after his father had known from grandfather Jorge, who between Wednesday night and Thursday morning learned from Barça that the new contract of his son could not be registered in La Liga, for economic reasons, as agreed. The same Wednesday, by the way, while Barça played a match in Stuttgart, Messi returned to Catalonia after canceling the boat he had rented in Ibiza until Friday. The reason: to go to the notary the next day in Barcelona at four o'clock in the afternoon to sign the agreement most expected by Barcelona fans.

Messi, upon arrival in Paris.

There was no signature, the entity announced that the contract could not be formalised and the azulgrana president, Joan Laporta, argued the next day that the "calamitous" legacy of Bartomeu and the rules of La Liga on the issue of wages made the continuity of Messi in Barça impossible. "We were willing to make an effort above our means", said the top executive, who publicly released the Argentine and his father of the frustrating outcome and put words to the sanity demanded by three key figures in the management of the club's crisis: Vice-President (and great endorser) Eduard Romeu, CEO Ferran Reverter (strong man in Super League matters) and Mateu Alemany, who before the elections, without needing to see any audit, already alerted him to the difficulty of keeping the 10 in an oversized squad.

While workers, managers, fans and even the protagonist himself wondered what had happened so that everything went belly up, the two parties of the negotiation and a third party involved, La Liga, inaugurated the battle to impose its account of the facts. The clubs' employers' association used its president's Twitter feed as the main engine for communicating its version of events. In summary, Javier Tebas explained that Laporta had approved the agreement with the CVC fund to register Messi and that it was "an executive" - in reference to Reverter - who dissuaded him at the last moment from compromising the Super League project that the president of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, also defends.

The role of Cristian Romero

There has been more subterfuge in the messaging war between Laporta and Messi's entourage to add to the brittle relationship that was highlighted by the cold greeting of the two concerned and the absence of Jorge and Rodrigo Messi at Sunday's farewell event at the Camp Nou. Sources of the entity insinuate that, in addition to Tebas' rigidity and the nefarious management of Bartomeu, if the understanding was not initialled it was also because the player's father asked for "something else" last minute before signing. Among other things, the recruitment of Cristian Romero, Atalanta player. The player's side confirms that the centre-back's name appeared in the negotiation, but points out that it was when Laporta included him in a list of possible signings that he "sold" to him on the idea that the squad would be improved. In the list of names there was Romero, but also Haaland, Kanté and Wijnaldum. "Laporta has not had a realistic view of how Barça is", says Messi's entourage, which adds that the president said privately that he could make a million-dollar investment for Romero. They also point out that the agreement was ready for signing, and there was no last minute modification.

Nor is there consensus on the interpretation of the last hours before Messi's flight to France to sign with PSG. From the early hours of Monday to Tuesday transcended a last attempt to rebuild bridges with Reverter, the head of the talks, an end that the player's entourage does not buy and that the club reformulated. Tuesday morning sources of the entity explained that the treasurer Ferran Oliver contacted Jorge Messi again and received as a response that the agreement with PSG was already closed although the player would have preferred to wait for a new offer to try to stay. "All this is reminiscent of Figo", they added at the Camp Nou, referring to the pre-agreement that the Portuguese signed in 2000 with Madrid despite his wish to remain at Barca.

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