La Liga president Javier Tebas said he was “ready” for the exit of Lionel Messi – while criticizing Manchester City, a club he believes could sign him.
Messi submitted a transfer request in August at Barcelona – who he joined as a 13-year-old – but backed down after they refused to sanction his release.
The forward had fallen out with Josep Maria Bartomeu, who subsequently resigned as Barca president in October.
Tebas wants Messi to stay in Spain but feels La Liga would cope without him.
He argued that the competition had continued to thrive following Neymar’s 2017 departure from Barcelona to Paris St-Germain, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2018 move from Real Madrid to Juventus.
“We would prefer Messi to stay in La Liga but Ronaldo and Neymar left and we have not noticed any difference,” Tebas said. “We are ready.”
The Argentina international, 33, would be available on a free transfer at the end of this season.
Tebas indicated that Messi’s likeliest Premier League destination, if he went to England, would be Etihad Stadium – although club sources have pointed out that no-one at City has ever spoken about signing Messi.
La Liga’s president has repeatedly criticized City, having previously made numerous allegations about their structure, including accusing them of financial doping, before they were cleared of serious FFP breaches by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in July.