The six-time Ballon d’Or has expressed his sadness after being forced to cut short his time with the Blaugrana due to a breakdown in contract talks. Lionel Messi was in floods of tears at his final press conference as a Barcelona player as he confirmed the end of his 21-year career at Camp Nou.
Messi became a free agent upon the expiration of his final contract at Barca in June, and the club confirmed on Friday that they have been unable to tie him down to a new deal due to “financial and structural obstacles”.
The Blaugrana couldn’t re-sign the 34-year-old without exceeding La Liga’s wage limit, meaning the six-time Ballon d’Or winner will now be forced to find a new club, and he admits that the whole situation has come as a great shock to him.
What’s been said?
“This is very difficult, I was not prepared for this. Last year I was convinced to leave, but this year we were, my family and I wanted to continue here, in our house,” Messi had told reporters.
“After 21 years I’m leaving with my three Catalan Argentine kids. We’ve lived in this city, this is our home. I’m just really grateful for everything, all my team-mates, everyone who has been by my side.
“I gave everything for this club from the first day I arrived to the last. I never imagined having to say goodbye as I didn’t think about it. What’s clear is I did everything possible, and they (Barca) couldn’t do it because of La Liga.
“A lot of things have been said about me, but on my behalf we did everything I could because I wanted to stay. Last year I didn’t want to stay and I said it. This year I did and I couldn’t.
“I love this club. Without seeing the fans for over a year and a half has been very hard. If I had imagined it [his leaving speech] I would’ve imagined the Camp Nou full and being able to say goodbye properly.”
The Argentine was also asked if reports of Paris Saint-Germain being his most likely next destination are true, to which he responded: “Paris Saint-Germain is a possibility, yes. At the moment nothing is confirmed, I received lot of calls after the Barcelona statement. We’re talking about it.”
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Messi’s legacy at Barca
Messi departs Barcelona as their all-time top-scorer with 672 goals to his name from 778 appearances across all competitions.
The diminutive magician is widely regarded as the finest player to have ever graced the Camp Nou turf, and has won a record six Ballon d’Or awards during his 21-year stay at the club.
Messi has also picked up 34 team trophies with Barca, including ten La Liga titles and four Champions League crown, with the 2020-21 Copa del Rey the latest piece of silverware added to his illustrious CV.
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