Lionel Messi has insisted that nobody at Barcelona asked him to play for free, and that the club hurt him ahead of his move to PSG this summer.
Messi stunned the football world this summer, leaving Barcelona for PSG as the club struggled to balance their books and faced a financial crisis.
The Catalan giants could no longer afford Messi’s gigantic salary, and club president Joan Laporta criticised the six-time Ballon d’Or winner for not staying and playing for free given his love for the club.
But Messi claims that no such offers were made at the time.
“As I explained on my way out, I did everything possible to stay, never at any time was I asked to play for free,” Messi told Sport.
“I was asked to cut my salary by 50 per cent and I did it without any problem. We were able to help the club more. The desire of me and my family was to stay in Barcelona.
“Nobody asked me to play for free and 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.”
“This makes people think and generates a type of doubt that I think I do not deserve.”
While Messi says he has not spoken to Laporta since the move, he has stayed in touch with team-mates and continues to watch the games when he can, which the forward says is bittersweet.
And while he is sure he will return to live in the city, it remains uncertain whether he will play for the club again once his two-year contract with PSG runs out.
He said: “To this day, when I watch the games, it makes me want and remember things from matches at the Camp Nou, with the people. It is reliving a little of everything that was.
“What is for sure is that we are going to live in Barcelona again and that our life will be there. It’s what my wife wants and what I want. I do not know what happens when my contract with Paris ends.
“I always said that I would love to be able to help the club in a useful way. I would love to be a technical secretary at some point. I don’t know if it will be at Barcelona or not.”
Messi gave a tearful interview ahead of his move away from Barcelona, a club that he appeared determined to stay at for the rest of his career, having moved as a 13-year-old from Argentina.
But the forward says that he has adjusted to life in Paris and is happy in his new home.
“It was a big change that, as I said at the time, I did not imagine. Luckily I am settled, the children are already in school, we now have a day-to-day routine. We are also enjoying this city, which is wonderful despite the weather. We are happy.”