Lionel Messi Cannot Stay Despite Agreements: FC Barcelona
Lionel Messi's association with FC Barcelona has come to an end.
Argentine footballer Lionel Messi’s time at Barcelona has come to an end after more than two decades.
The club announced on Thursday that Messi will not sign a new contract because of financial and structural obstacles. The club also added that both parties had reached an agreement about signing the contract.
Messi first spoke about leaving the club in August last year after the 8-2 Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich.
However, the six-time Ballon D'Or winner had been expected to sign a new 5-year contract with Barcelona, his only professional home up until now, which would have seen him take a pay cut off 50 percent.
The 34-year-old Messi has been a free agent since his previous contract, worth over 500 million euros, expired on 30 June and has in recent weeks won his first major international trophy with Argentina. They beat Neymar and Brazil in the Copa America final.
“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).
“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,” the statement read.
Only recently did current President Joan Laporta win an election at the club, promising to do everything possible to keep Messi at the Nou Camp. The club have been going through some rather troubled times financially and balancing the books in compliance with the rules was essential to keeping Messi on the roster.
The club had reportedly been looking to offload high earners including Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, and Philippe Coutinho to help the cause.
Barcelona’s opening La Liga game against Real Sociedad is less than a fortnight away, with Ronald Koeman remaining in charge at the Nou Camp following a disappointing first campaign with the club.
Messi had first joined Barca's academy in 2000 and up until now has played 778 games scoring scored 672 goals, a club record. He has helped Barca win, among other trophies, 10 La Liga titles and the Champions League on 4 occasions.
Earlier in the summer, Barcelona made a series of signings, bringing in Messi’s longtime friend and Argentina teammate Sergio Aguero, Netherlands’ Memphis Depay and Spain’s Eric Garcia, as well as recalling Emerson Royal.
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