Barcelona never asked me to play for free – Lionel Messi

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Lionel Messi has admitted to being “hurt” by Joan Laporta’s comments on his Barcelona exit, with the Paris Saint-Germain star insisting that he was never asked to play for the club for free.

Messi’s 21-year stay at Barca came to an end in the summer as the club were unable to tie him down to a new contract amid a financial crisis that had seen them exceed La Liga’s wage limit.

The 34-year-old subsequently joined PSG on a free transfer, but Laporta has since suggested that the legendary figure could have stayed at Camp Nou if he had been willing to go without a weekly salary.

When quizzed on Messi’s move to Parc des Princes, the Barca president told RAC1 in October: “I hoped Messi would do a U-turn and he would say he would play for free.

“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.”

Messi has now hit back at Laporta for raising doubts about his strength of character instead of taking responsibility for his exit, while also reiterating that he did everything possible to remain at Barca.

“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,” the Argentine forward has told Sport.

“I was asked to cut my salary by 50 percent 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.”

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