Excl. Javier Tebas interview: Lionel Messi's Barça exit could have been avoided

SPORT EXCLUSIVE

The LaLiga president believes Messi's departure from the league was not due to financial reasons

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Lluís Mascaró

LaLiga president Javier Tebas spoke to SPORT about Lionel Messi's move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, which saw him leave the Spanish league behind...

Three years ago Cristiano Ronaldo left. Now Leo. Has it damaged LaLiga?

Of course. Just like when Ronaldo, Guardiola and Mourinho left. We knew it would happen one day. We've been lucky to have the best players in the world in the best teams in the world. At LaLiga, we have been able to take advantage to put us ourselves on the front line across the world. Maybe Messi's exit has been more painful, because personally I consider him the best ever, and he didn't deserve to leave like that, not just for Barça, but also for the league.

Do you think his exit could have been avoided?

Yes.

How?

I discussed it with Laporta personally, on the telephone, and with his board of directors. They looked for solutions, if the motive was financial.... If it was for another reason, I can's assess that right now. I think next season, with Barça's numbers, we will see if Messi really could have stayed or not. And even though I respect the club's decision, you have to tell things as they are.

We hope to find out the truth about Messi one day.

It wasn't a financial decision. I know that with certainty.

Do you associate it with Barça's “no” to the deal with CVC?

If Messi had shook hands with Messi on a deal, it was because for one month he had accepted the CVC offer. He was in favour for more than a month. That's why he said things were going well. He even phoned me twice to accelerate the operation with CVC because Messi was getting nervous.

You've been blamed for Messi's departure by supporters...

I know. I put it up with the initial (criticism) but I already tweeted that it wasn't the truth. The opposite, the CVC project is a global project for all the clubs in LaLiga, and Barcelona would have benefitted, not just in terms of debt, but their wage bill, with a medium-term perspective.

What's not been said about Barça not accepting the CVC deal?

The club was happy with the agreement for many weeks and then in the last 72 hours it all changed. It was a decision influenced by (Barça CEO) Ferran Reverter and I think it's linked to the Super League.

Do you think UEFA have been too lax on clubs like PSG and Man City?

The problem with FFP currently is it's always applied a posteriori. On this issue, we must remember both clubs were sanctioned by UEFA follow LaLiga's complaints, and the CAS absolved them. And there is the problem. The CAS is not hte Vatican of sporting justice, not at all. The model has to be improved and it must be applied before. As in the case with Barça, who have had to act beforehand, and I can guarantee that's helped them beat the crisis. But it's clear that what PSG do is intolerable, the same as City and other clubs. I repeat, it's intolerable, it's (financial) doping.

What numbers are we talking about?

In the last three years, PSG have received cash injections worth 800 million euros. And their commercial income is 20% more than big European clubs like Barça, Madrid or Man United. It's impossible, it's out of step with the market. If this does not end, football will end up with 20 Sheikhs in 20 different clubs dominating everything.

What's the solution?

Good financial control, harmonised, and maybe the intervention from the European Union, given this is already distorting the markets a lot.

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