Barcelona president Joan Laporta has admitted he was hoping Lionel Messi would offer to play for the club for free after they were unable to offer him a new contract.
Barça's financial woes meant they were unable to tie Messi down to a new deal this summer, and the forward ended up joining Paris Saint-Germain.
Laporta has revealed that Barcelona were aware of PSG's interest and the massive contract offer they had ready for Messi, and doesn't hold anything against him for leaving.
"I love him too much to be angry," Laporta told RAC1. "But there comes a time when you see that things just cannot happen, and there was disappointment on both sides.
"There was a desire for him to stay, but pressure because of the offer he had. He knew that he'd go to PSG if he didn't stay.
"He'll go down as the best player in the history of Barcelona and I want that to be preserved. Everything indicates that he had the PSG offer before leaving Barcelona. We knew he had a big offer.
"When it came to making the decision, I thought I was doing the best thing for Barcelona. I hoped there would be a change and that he'd say he'd play for free, but we cannot expect a player of his level to do that.
"We have a very good relationship. I knew that if we recovered financially we would compensate him, but we couldn't make demands knowing the offer he had in Paris."
Barcelona's season has gotten off to a rotten start. They're currently ninth in La Liga and have lost both of their opening Champions League games 3-0.
Messi, meanwhile, has managed just a solitary goal since joining PSG. His strike from distance helped Les Parisiens beat Manchester City 2-0.
This article was originally published on 90min as Joan Laporta hoped Lionel Messi would play for Barcelona for free.