Disgraced former FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu may have been forced out of the club along with his entire board, but he is not letting that stop him from criticising current president Joan Laporta and the things the latter has done with the club since taking over. Bartomeu is particularly critical of the fact that Lionel Messi was forced to leave this summer.
"They let Messi leave and that seems like a bad decision to me," Bartomeu said, as quoted on numerous Spanish publications. Ironically, Messi had initially wanted to leave last summer, back when Bartomeu was in charge. Only his massive release clause prevented the move from happening, but the Argentine eventually changed his mind when Bartomeu left.
This summer, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner fully expected to sign a new contract with the Catalan giants, but unfortunately despite willingness from both sides it was impossible. The club's financial crisis, which started in the Bartomeu era, forced the club to let go of Messi because they simply could no longer afford him.
"As president, I didn't want Messi to leave and I did everything I could to prevent it from happening," said Bartomeu, in a pointed dig at his successor whom he left with his hands or at least his wallet tied behind his back.
Joan Laporta inherited a massive debt that goes over a billion euros, and his presidency has been focused on damage control. He ordered an extensive audit of the club's books, and Bertomeu confidently defended himself and his board from any wrongdoing.
"I'm not afraid. Nobody from my board put their hand into the till. You can't hide that, and after so many months we would have known by now," he said. "Nothing came out in the audit nor when they did their due diligence. They can do whatever they want."
Bartomeu also addressed the tension between Laporta and manager Ronald Koeman, whom he appointed during his tenure. "He's prepared. You have to be patient to allow him to build a team without the best player in the world," he concluded, amid speculations that Koeman is facing the sack very soon.