LaLiga president Javier Tebas has said Barcelona could have kept Lionel Messi had they not signed Memphis Depay and Sergio Aguero.
The 34-year-old Messi came to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer on a free transfer because Barca, whose gross debt is close to €1.4 billion, could not afford to renew his contract.
Barca president Joan Laporta confirmed in August that the club could have kept Messi had they agreed to LaLiga’s deal to sell 10% of its business to CVC Capital Partners.
That operation would have been worth around €270 million to Barca, but they declined to sign the sale, with Laporta saying it would have a mortgage on the club’s future.
Tebas says the deal would have allowed Barcelona to extend Messi’s contract at the Nou Camp, adding that it would also have been possible to keep the Argentina international had they not signed Memphis and Aguero earlier in the summer.
“I had dinner at Laporta’s house and he agreed to sign the CVC agreement,” Tebas, who believes Real Madrid president Florentino Perez forced Barca to pull out of the deal, told Cope.
“I didn’t know if Messi could extend that, but later I got a call.” [from Laporta]. Can we speed up the CVC deal? The child [Messi] getting nervous,’ he said.
“I said to him, ‘The day it comes out, Florentino is going to try and destroy it.’ And Laporta said to me, “No, no, I have character.” Florentino is behind this, I have no doubt.
“There was an agreement that if… [Barca] signed the CVC deal, they could have spent 15% of the money on signing players. In my opinion they could have signed Messi.
“Laporta signed players like Memphis, Aguero… if he didn’t hire those players, Messi can continue.”
Barca, along with Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, opted not to sign the deal with CVC. The other 17 top clubs in Spain all accepted the operation, which rewarded them with an immediate cash injection.
CVC, in return, will take 10% of LaLiga’s business, including television rights, over the next 50 years, although they will not take a percentage of Barca, Madrid and Athletic’s revenues.
As a result of not signing the deal and having booked losses of €481 million last season, Barça’s LaLiga spending cap for the campaign has been reduced to just €97 million.
Last season, that cap was set at more than €300 million, while in 2019-20, prior to the pandemic, it was more than €600 million. The limit covers expenses on first team wages, academy fees and transfer write-offs, among other things.