Barcelona presidential frontrunner Joan Laporta has accused Paris Saint-Germain of attempting to 'destabilise' the Catalan club, taking exception to quotes from Leandro Paredes that suggested the French club are 'trying to sign' Lionel Messi.
Messi is out of contract in the summer and his situation has become one of the dominant issues heading into the club's presidential elections in March. Laporta, who has emerged as favourite to succeed Josep Bartomeu, has been clear in his intentions to keep the captain at the club.
But that hasn't stopped the transfer rumour mill going haywire, with major clubs seeming to take it in turns at the front of the queue for the Argentine. Manchester City and Inter have been heavily linked previously, but after PSG sporting director Leonardo hinted that there was a 'place at the table' for the Barca legend, the French club have become the flavour of the month.
Links only intensified earlier on Monday when Paredes, an international teammate of Messi's, seemed to reveal that the club have plans to bring him in.
The midfielder told Corriere dello Sport: "It's up to Leo to come to the club, because PSG are trying to convince him.
"To be able to be coached by a coach from your country and the possibility of playing with Leo is a great opportunity. I hope it happens."
What Paredes actually knows about the intricacies of the club's transfer dealings is unclear, but in any case, Laporta has taken exception. He pointed to their difficult financial situation as something that makes a deal unlikely, and asked the French champions to refrain from trying to 'destabilise' Barcelona.
In an interview on Spanish TV that has since been carried by AS, he said: “I have read that PSG is posting financial losses and we are already talking about whether they can take on these investments.
“In any case, I would ask them, with respect, that they do not destabilise Barcelona. We haven’t done anything that would prompt them to say that they plan to sign Messi when we are in the middle of the season. I don’t think it’s right.”