Messi clears air on wanting to play at Barcelona for free

Paris Saint-Germain forward, Lionel Messi, has hit out at Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, for saying he could have played for free at the club.

Messi has however suggested he would have been willing to accept a bigger pay cut to stay at Camp Nou.

The 34-year-old accepted a salary reduction of 50% to stay at Barca, but the LaLiga club were still unable to register him with the league body due to their spending limit for the season being cut to €97 million.

Speaking after Messi had joined PSG as a free agent, Laporta said he had hoped the Argentina forward would offer to play for free.

“The truth is, as I explained when I left, I did everything possible to stay.

“Never at any moment did they ask me to play for free. They asked me to reduce my salary by 50% and I did it without any problem. We were willing to help the club more. My desire and that of my family was to stay in Barcelona.

“No one asked me to play for free, but at the same time the president’s words were inappropriate. It hurt because I don’t think there was any need to say that.

“It’s like taking the ball from you and not accepting the responsibility or taking charge of things. That makes people think and generates doubts that I don’t think I deserve,” Messi told SPORT in an interview published on Monday.