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Monday, September 20, 2021

Lionel Messi to leave Barcelona after two decades, linked with a move to PSG

Lionel Messi, who arrived at Barcelona aged 13 and made his competitive debut in 2004, leaves the La Liga club after 17 successful seasons in which he won a staggering 35 titles.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: August 8, 2021 3:48:08 pm
Lionel Messi, Messi leaving barcelona, messi barcelona deal, messi barcelona contract controversy, messi barcelona contract renewalLionel Messi is a free agent now. (Reuters)

Lionel Messi’s Barcelona contract will not be renewed and the six-time Ballon d’Or winner will leave the club despite both parties reaching an agreement earlier.

In a statement released, the La Liga club cited “financial and structural obstacles” and blamed “Spanish league regulations” on player registration for being unable to sign a new contract with the player. Messi’s previous one had expired on June 30.

“Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations), the statement said.

“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.

“FC Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life.”

Messi arrived at Barcelona aged 13 made his competitive debut for Barcelona in 2004. He leaves after 17 successful seasons in which he won 35 titles, including four UEFA Champions League crowns, 10 La Liga titles, seven Copa del Reys, and eight Supercopa de Espanas.

He has made no immediate public statement so far.

Messi had asked to leave Barcelona for free at the end of last season but had his request denied by then-president Josep Bartomeu.

Joan Laporta took over the presidency and appeared to have convinced Messi to stay. But Laporta had said recently that the club was struggling to fit the player’s salary — even with hefty reductions accepted by the player — into the league-controlled salary cap.

In Messi’s previous contract, signed in 2017, he reportedly earned 138 million euros ($163 million) per season.

The league had announcement on Wednesday that it secured $3.2 billion in private equity funding to help the clubs, which appeared to pave the way for Barcelona to re-sign the Argentina star. But the deal with Messi fell through after club officials met with the player’s representatives in Barcelona on Thursday.

Some local reports said it was Messi who had changed his mind about staying, while others said it was the club that got upset with new demands made by the player’s staff.

Barcelona was one of the clubs hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The league slashed its salary cap last season and the club had been trying to clear cap space by releasing some of its players. It had only signed free agents this summer — including Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero, and Eric Garcia — to avoid paying transfer fees.

Neymar teasing Messi to PSG?

As soon as news broke of Messi’s exit from Barcelona, Twitter wasted no time to recall Neymar’s Instagram post where the Brazilian was spotted with the Argentine star on Wednesday.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by NJ 10 🇧🇷 (@neymarjr)

With the club, Messi earned himself a record six Ballon d’Or awards as the world’s top player. He is the team’s all-time scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances, and the top scorer in La Liga with 474 goals in 520 matches. He also is the player with the most matches with the club.

He was the top scorer in La Liga in eight seasons, and the top scorer in the UEFA Champions League on six occasions. His 26 goals against Real Madrid are a record for EL Clasicos.

(with AP inputs)

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