An emotional Lionel Messi took to the stage as he leaves Barcelona after two decades with his boyhood club.
Messi, who scored a record of 672 goals in a Barcelona shirt, won 34 trophies, and 6 Ballon d’Ors, which is an award widely regarded as the highest and most prestigious award for any footballer to receive, was in a flood of tears as he announced his exit.
The former Barca striker said he did not want to leave Barcelona but due to “financial and structural obstacles” he was unable to stay. The Messi move is being blamed on the Spanish Liga Regulations because La Liga enforces a salary cap on its football clubs, with president Javier Tebas saying that Barcelona will not get any special treatment and maintained that the salary limit for 2020-21 was €382.7 million, meaning Barca’s bill had to be cut.
Even after Messi offered to reduce his salary by 50% before he leaves Barcelona from a reported €71M down to measly €35.5M, Barca could still no longer afford for him to stay, saying:
“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.”
After the announcement, France’s PSG has made an official 2-year offer for a contract to sign with them in Paris, thought to be worth £25 million, with “two other potential options” wanting to sign him.
Messi has already spoken with PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino about moving to France. When asked about a move to PSG at his farewell press conference, Messi said:
“That is one possibility, to reach those heights. I’ve got nothing confirmed with anybody. I had a lot of calls, a lot of interested clubs. At the moment, nothing is closed, but we are talking about a lot of things.”
A move to PSG for Messi would see him reunited with his former Barca team-mate Neymar, but reuniting with an old friend won’t soothe the pain of having to leave his old club and the place his family has laid their roots, saying:
“This year, my family and I were convinced we were going to stay at home, that’s what we all wanted more than anything. We’d always made this our own, we were at home. We thought we would be staying here in Barcelona. But today, we have to say goodbye to all of this.”