A near three months since turning his back on his boyhood club of more than two decades, Lionel Messi broke his silence on a number of topics such as his exit from FC Barcelona to PSG in an interview with SPORT.
Revealing that he would like to one day return to the Catalan capital, not just to live with his wife and three sons, but also to take up a behind-the-scenes role at Barca, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner also revealed that he felt “hurt” by president Joan Laporta’s recent comments to the press.
Last month, Laporta told RAC1 that he hoped Messi would agree to ply his trade without charging Barca a penny, when strict La Liga salary cap rules meant he could not be resigned on a new contract therefore facilitating his switch to the Parc des Princes.
“I hoped Messi would do a U-turn and he would say he would play for free,” Laporta said.
“I would have liked that and I would have been all for it. It is my understanding La Liga would have accepted it.
But we cannot ask a player of Messi’s stature to do this,” he added.
Sharing his account, though, Messi clarified how ”the truth is that, as I explained on my way out, I did everything possible to stay.
Never at any time was I asked to play for free.”
“I was asked to cut my salary by 50 per cent and I did it without any problem.
We were in a position to help the club more.
The desire of me and my family was to stay in Barcelona.
“Nobody asked me to play for free but at the same time, it seems to me that the words said by the president are out of place.
They hurt me because I think he doesn’t need to say that, it’s like getting the ball off you and not assuming its consequences, or taking charge of things.
“This makes people think or generates a type of doubt that I think I do not deserve,” Messi concluded on this.
Separately, though, it is claimed by SPORT‘s director Lluis Mascaro that Messi is aware he was betrayed by one of his oldest friends in football since their days in the La Masia academy together in Gerard Pique.
On Radioestadio Noche, Mascaro said: “Messi knows that Pique told Laporta that if Messi left [the club] nothing [bad] would happen”, and a possible falling out between the pair has been picked up on elsewhere.
When asked in the interview if he maintained a relationship with any of his former teammates, Messi answered:
“Yes. I speak often with [Sergio] Kun Aguero, who was not a teammate but is a great friend.
[And I also speak] with Busi [Sergio Busquets], [and] with Jordi Alba often [too].”
Notice Pique’s omission. Yet as Toni Juanmarti points out, surely Pique, “who never avoids talking about any topic”, will also come out on a limb and speak regarding this too.
“I do not know where or when, but surely the [number] ’3′ will want to give his version [of the story],” Juanmarti stressed.