When Lionel Messi agreed to sign for Chelsea as fresh transfer links emerge after Barcelona exit

Chelsea target Lionel Messi nearly joined the club back in 2014 in a ‘secret deal’ amid fresh talks of a potential west London move for the Argentine after he was released by Barcelona.

Messi, 34, has a big decision to make after Joan Laporta admitted in an emergency press conference on Friday that it was impossible to keep the Copa America winner at the club due to the Financial Fair Play regulations in La Liga.

Laporta explained the financial difficulties at the club and how it linked to what has unfolded over the last 24 hours.

“The salary mass is 110% of the total income of the club.” the Barcelona president revealed.

“We don’t have any margin in terms of the salary. The rules and regulations of La Liga is regulated by a Financial Fair Play and we don’t have any margin.

“We knew that when we got to the club, but I have to say that when we got to the club, the numbers that have been presented to us after the first conclusions of the audit and our analysis, those numbers are a lot worse than what we were exposed to initially.

“The losses are a lot more elevated than what we expected, what we’re spending is a lot more than we expected and the current contracts mean that we have this salary mass of great magnitude and it allows no margin. This is all tied to fair play.

“The financial fair play in La Liga doesn’t follow the criteria of cash. This is the reason why we couldn’t fit in the first contract that we had agreed to with Leo Messi and I can explain to you if that’s what you’d like.

“In order to have that fair play, Barca had to agree to an operation that would affect the club for the next 50 years in terms of TV rights. I can’t make a decision that will affect the club for the next 50 years.”

He then went onto explain how the dire financial situation at the Catalan-based club affected their decision to part ways with the player who has given 21-years of service for the cause.

“The reason why we have decided that we have to get to this point is because of the economical situation of the club and that an investment of that volume with the contract of Leo Messi was risky,” Laporta added.

“A lot of aspects had to be negotiated: Leo’s contract needed to be compatible with fair play, it needed to be of a certain duration because he’s the best player in the world and he has other offers of course.”

As the six-time Ballon d’Or winner dwells over his next step, thoughts are naturally building on where his next destination will be, with Stamford Bridge one of the possibilities.

Messi once “secretly” agreed to join Chelsea for £208million back in 2014, but the move fell through after his dad and agent Jorge Messi found out about these informal talks.

Sky Sports’ Gianluca Di Marzio disclosed that Roman Abramovich and co. agreed to give Messi an annual wage of $65 million (£46.7million) plus 70% of image rights, with the Argentine keen on the deal.

However, it crashed and burned after Messi’s father was made aware of the plans by an intermediary who was angry he was squeezed out of the negotiations.

Jose Mourinho started his second stint at Stamford Bridge when these proposed talks occurred in private.

Chelsea may be left to wonder what might have been, but the fact that they went on to win the Premier League in the 2014/15 season with Eden Hazard playing the starring role to spearhead the club to more silverware will be a little consolation.

Currently, PSG are leading the race for the winger with reports stating that the Parisians have already made the first contact in an attempt to make the dream front three of Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe a scary reality.

Contacts will apparently intensify between the two parties as owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi has a “great desire” to bring arguably the world’s best footballer to his club.

Coupled with this, the 34-year-old is keen on reuniting with close friend Neymar, after Messi’s now-former club couldn’t afford to bring back the Brazilian to Spain last summer.