An iconic Argentine departed Camp Nou during the summer of 2021, with a career-long association with La Liga heavyweights brought to a close

Joan Laporta says he has no regrets at having allowed Lionel Messi to leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2021, with the Blaugrana president pointing out that “no one is above the club”.

La Liga heavyweights tried desperately to keep a club legend on their books as his previous contract expired, but financial difficulties at Camp Nou made an extension impossible and an emotional parting of ways inevitable.

Questions have been asked of whether both sides of discussions could have done more to get a deal done, but Laporta claims he acted in the best interests of a side that is learning to live without the services of a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Laporta has told BarcaTV+: “Messi’s departure? It was the hardest decision I made. I didn’t want to make the decision. Messi is the best player in history, but that was our situation.

“I had to make a big decision about Messi, but I do not regret it. No one is above the club. With Messi the reality hit us. There’s nothing else to it.

“But Barcelona’s history continues, and with hard work and correct decisions we can return to the path of success. That’s what we’re doing.”

Lionel Messi signed his first professional contract at Barcelona on this day in 2004 ????

An all-time great bid a tearful farewell to Barca in August 2021, with a career-long association with Catalan giants brought to a close.

He had taken in 778 appearances for the club, scoring 672 goals, and helped himself to 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns during a record-setting spell in Spanish football.

Messi said when heading through the exits: “We had everything agreed but, at the last minute, it couldn’t happen [Messi staying at Barcelona]. I’ve heard lots of things being said about me, this year I wanted to stay and I couldn’t. Last year I didn’t want to stay, and I said it.

“This year I wanted to stay. I did everything possible but the club couldn’t do it because of La Liga.

“We have to take it and move forward.”

He added: “No doubt, this is the hardest moment. We had hurtful defeats but football gives you a chance to avenge that. But there is no turning point to this.

“I feel very sad now as I have to leave a club that I love. I did not expect this. I always told the truth. Last year I wanted to leave, this year I did not want to leave.”

Barca took a while to find their feet without Messi to call upon, slipping off Real Madrid’s title pace in domestic competition and tumbling out of the Champions League on a continental stage.

They are, however, back up to third in the Spanish top-flight and into the last-16 of the Europa League, while Messi – who is chasing down more major honours of his own – has registered just seven goals through 24 outings for PSG.

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