Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, has admitted that the club was hoping Lionel Messi would agree to “play for free”.

Messi currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain after leaving Barca as a free agent.

The 34-year-old departed the Nou Camp, once it became clear that the LaLiga giants could not afford a lucrative contract extension.

Both parties had agreed to fresh terms, but financial mismanagement at the Nou Camp and LaLiga salary caps meant that no paperwork could be signed.

Discussing Messi’s exit with RAC1, Laporta said: “With Messi, I do not get angry because I appreciate him. I know he had a huge desire to stay, but also a lot of pressure because of the offer he had.

“Everything indicates that he already had the offer from PSG. Everyone knew that he had a very powerful offer. We knew from Messi that they had a very good offer.

“At no time do I think of going backward. I think I’m doing the best for Barca. Nobody can put the institution at risk.

“I did hope that at the last minute Messi would say that he would play for free. I would have liked that and he would have convinced me. I understand that the league would have accepted it. But we cannot ask that of a player of his level.”