Barcelona has announced that Lionel Messi will leave the club after financial problems prevented them from agreeing with the forward on a new contract.
Lionel Messi, 34, has been a free agent since his contract expired on June 30. However, Barça has been unable to register Messi’s new contract with LaLiga while complying with the league’s financial fair play rules. President Joan Laporta is expected to address the situation in a news conference on Friday.
Barcelona said in a statement: “Despite having reached an agreement with Messi and with both parties clearly wanting to sign a new contract, it cannot be finalized due to financial and structural problems [rules relating to the Spanish league].
“Barca would like to wholeheartedly thank the player for his contribution to the growth of the institution and wish him the best in his personal and professional life.”
The Paris Saint-Germain have worked for weeks on negotiating a move for Messi that would also see Neymar and Kylian Mbappe remain in Paris. According to ESPN, sources have said that the club never felt it was a deal that could realistically come off.
What’s Next For Messi?
It is not clear if Manchester City, meanwhile, would enter the bidding. The Premier League champions wanted Messi last summer but signed Jack Grealish on Thursday for £100 million.
Spanish clubs must comply with a spending limit, which includes money spent on salaries and signings, determined by LaLiga.
Barca’s spending stood at over €600 million before the coronavirus pandemic but was reduced to €347 million last season. It is expected to be slashed even further for the upcoming campaign.
Therefore, to register Messi’s new contract with the league, the Catalan club needed to reduce their wage bill or bring in a significant amount of money in transfers.
Messi tried to leave Barca last summer after falling out with President Josep Maria Bartomeu but ended up staying against his will. He believed a clause in his contract allowed him to leave for free, but Barca said that was not the case. With the prospect of a legal battle on the horizon, Messi backed down.
Messi’s departure is a historic moment for the club. He first joined Barca’s academy in 2000 and has gone on to play 778 games for the club, breaking Xavi Hernandez’s appearance record last season.
He has scored 672 goals, another club record, and has helped Barca win, among other trophies, 10 LaLiga titles and the Champions League on four occasions.
In the process, Messi has won the Ballon d’Or on six occasions and is among those considered the greatest to play the game.
Published by HOLR Magazine