Barcelona president hoped ‘he would play for free’ before joining PSG

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.”