Barcelona president Joan Laporta admitted on Friday he hoped Lionel Messi would change his mind about leaving the club and offer to play for free.
Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain in August after Barca decided not to renew the Argentinian's contract due to La Liga's strict salary limits.
"He wanted to stay but they also had a lot of pressure because of the offer they had. They knew if he didn't stay, he would go to PSG."
Laporta continued: "I hoped Messi would do a u-turn and he would say he would play for free.
"I would have liked that and I would have been all for it. It is my understanding La Liga would have accepted it. But we cannot ask a player of Messi's stature to do this."
Laporta reiterated the club's atrocious financial situation meant they were unable to keep Messi on the same terms.
Barca recorded losses of 481 million euros ($556 million) last season, with a gross debt of 1.35 billion euros.