MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez denies having had any influence on Barcelona’s decision to allow Lionel Messi to leave the club.
Messi was supposed to remain in the squad after agreeing to a 50% salary cut, but last Thursday there was a dramatic turnaround, and the Argentinian striker transferred as free agent to French team Paris St Germain on Tuesday.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta blamed the Spanish league’s tight Financial Fair Play (FPF) controls for the decision.
But Jaume Llopis, a former board member of Espai Barca, the Camp Nou renovation project, resigned in the wake of Messi’s departure and later accused Laporta of bowing to Pérez’s will.
“Messi’s departure is a measure that helps Florentino. Imagine that (Kylian) Mbappé now signs with Real Madrid,” he told La Vanguardia newspaper.
Laporta was convinced by the new CEO, Ferran Reverter, that he cannot sign the agreement with CVC (for 2.7 billion euros in investment in the Spanish league) in addition to keeping the European Superliga pact with Pérez.
“It’s a coincidence that Reverter is a longtime friend of Pérez’s and that, between them, they managed to convince Laporta to change his mind and stop the negotiations.”
In a statement issued by Real, Pérez insisted that he had only met Reverter twice, once four months ago and once last Saturday at a dinner at which Laporta and Juventus president Andrea Agnelli were also present.
(by Joseph Walker)
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