Barcelona president Joan Laporta says he hoped Lionel Messi would stay at the club and “play for free”.
Messi, 34, left for Paris St-Germain in August after Barcelona were unable to renew his contract because of La Liga’s salary limits.
“There was disappointment on both sides,” Laporta said.
“I hoped Messi would do a U-turn and he would say he would play for free,” he added in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1.
“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.”