Lionel Messi

Joan Laporta reveals he has no regrets over Lionel Messi's Barcelona exit

Tom Gott
Laporta is satisfied with how Messi's exit played out
Laporta is satisfied with how Messi's exit played out / AFP7/GettyImages

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has described the departure of Lionel Messi as the saddest moment of his career, but stressed that he does not regret letting the Argentine leave.

Messi had been desperate to sign a new contract at Camp Nou and those in charge were just as keen to get a deal done, but financial restraints meant that an extension was not possible and Messi sealed a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain instead.

On the 365th day of his presidency at Barcelona, Laporta admitted he was proud of just how well the team have fared without Messi.

"It's the saddest decision of all," Laporta said of Messi's departure. "I never wanted to make it, but I'm not sorry either because we had to put the club above everything.

"We had to put the institution above everything, which is what we did, even ahead of the best player in the world.

"The situation was what it was. We came up against reality. It seemed as though there was nothing afterwards, but the legacy of Barcelona continues and, with work and well thought-out decisions, we can return to the path of success. That's what we are doing. We know that the history of Barcelona continues and we can return to the path of success."

Laporta also took the opportunity to thank former manager Ronald Koeman for steadying the ship, but admitted he wished he replaced him with Xavi sooner than he did.

"I had doubts about Koeman after the first season, but out of respect for him, we tried to make it work," the president continued. "There came a time when I saw that another painful decision had to be made.

"Would I sack Koeman before I did? Yes. I should have listened to the club.

"I will always remember Koeman for the goal at Wembley, for a coach who had the courage to put his faith in young players. If he is hurt, I hope that feeling goes away."