Barcelona president Joan Laporta has hauled pebbles on claims in some quarters that he asked Messi to play for free just before the Argentina forward moved over to Ligue 1 giants PSG.
Laporta admitted the prospect was raised before Messi left for PSG earlier this season.
But he has since told TV3: “I want this to be clear. In a radio show, I was told: ‘If Messi could have stayed for free?’ For free … I don’t know if it would have been possible, but I understand that it could have been.
“And for a while I was like, well, it could have been. But I never asked Messi to play for free and in that Messi is right because, other than that, he is the best player in the world. We knew he had a big offer and that was nonsense. Anyway, it had to come from him, not from me. I never said that and a controversy was born which is distorted at the source. “
Messi who clinched his 7th Balloon d Or this week has since settled down PSG where he has equally blended with former Barca teammate Neymar and world cup winner Kylian Mbappe.