The club could not afford to keep hold of their greatest ever player amid their unprecedented financial woes, with the club racking up more than £1billion in debt and recording a £409million loss for last season.
Club president Laporta explained earlier in the summer that Barcelona's wage bill with six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi on the books would equal 110 per cent of their income.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta (L) insists he held hopes that Lionel Messi (R) would play for the club for free
Messi bid an emotional farewell in the summer, with the club unable to afford to keep him
As a result, the Argentina star - who scored 672 goals for the club and won LaLiga 10 times along with four Champions League crowns - bid an emotional farewell in a press conference before signing for the Ligue 1 giants in the summer on a two-year deal.
But Laporta, 59, has revealed he retained hope the 34-year-old would at the