Barcelona's highest guarantor, Jose Elias, has said Lionel Messi's exit from the club was not strictly down to sporting reasons in an interview on the show La Sotana.
"Messi's departure was coming," he explained. "[Barça] had to generate a new team and with Messi you couldn't. He's at a certain age not to be at Barça..."
Elias was key in Joan Laporta's election victory in March and put up a large part of the guarantee which helped Laporta eventually take office at Camp Nou.
He insisted that to start a new project at Barça, it had to be without the Argentina star.
"To convert Barça into a winning team passes through a post-Messi project," he added. "A decision had to be made eventually."
Elias continued: "Messi wasn't crying because he wasn't staying at Barça, but for a range of things. He was finishing a cycle. And on top of that, he had made his life in Barcelona with his family."
Messi didn't renew his contract with Barça due to the club's financial limits at the time and he ended up signing for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
"Barça also had some economic and organisational limitations," Elias said. "So there were three reasons for which Messi could not continue.
"The organisation of the club's wage bill: they had to tackle some salary reductions which were difficult to undertand. Two, we didn't have money to pay him and we were doing handstands to pay him in installments, which is what they are doing in Paris. You have to delude yourself to believe that he could continue.
"And three, we have to generate a new team and new excitement and, with Messi inside, you could not do that."