Joan Laporta has revealed he hoped Lionel Messi would make a last-ditch offer to play for free to avoid him leaving Barcelona.
Messi ended up moving to Paris Saint-Germain in a blockbuster free transfer move in August.
It came after long negotiations over his new Barcelona contract reached a point where the Catalan giants could no longer afford to renew his terms while complying with the financial rules in LaLiga.
Messi, who this week insisted he had not made a mistake in joining PSG, was in tears as he attended his farewell news conference at Camp Nou and admitted he was leaving against his will.
Barca president Laporta was holding out hope Messi would end up staying without taking a salary but ultimately felt it was unreasonable to expect that from the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.
"With Messi I do not get angry because I appreciate him," Laporta said to RAC1. "I love him too much to be angry.
"I know he had a huge desire to stay, but also a lot of pressure because of the offer he had.
"Everyone knew that he had a very powerful offer. Everything indicated that he already had the offer from PSG and would go there if he did not stay."
Laporta added: "There comes a time when you see that things just cannot happen, and there was disappointment on both sides.
"When it came to making the decision, I thought I was doing the best thing for Barcelona - nothing can put the institution at risk.
"I did hope that at the last minute there would be a change and Messi would say that he would play for free.
"I would have liked that and he would have convinced me. I understand that the league would have accepted it. But we cannot expect that from a player of his level.
"We have a very good relationship. I knew that if we recovered financially we would compensate him, but we couldn't make demands knowing the offer he had in Paris."
Messi scored his first PSG goal in the Champions League win over Manchester City last week but has failed to score in his first three Ligue 1 appearances, including Sunday's shock 2-0 loss to Rennes.