Messi was widely expected to sign a new deal after his previous one expired at the start of July, however, the Blaugrana have now officially announced he’ll leave
Messi shares emotional call with wife after Copa America win
Barcelona have officially confirmed that Lionel Messi has left the club, blaming La Liga’s financial regulations for forcing the star out of the Nou Camp.
Messi was widely expected to sign a new deal, after his previous one expired at the start of July.
However, the Blaugrana have now announced that the club’s record scorer will no longer be linked to the club and will be available on a free transfer.
A statement on the club’s official website reads: “Despite having reached an agreement between FC Barcelona and Leo Messi and with the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, it cannot be formalised due to economic and structural obstacles (Spanish LaLiga regulations).
“Given this situation, Lionel Messi will not continue to be linked to FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of both the player and the Club cannot finally be fulfilled.
“Barça would like to thank with all its heart the player’s contribution to the enhancement of the institution and wishes him the best in his personal and professional life.”
Messi is Barca’s all-time top scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances for the club, while he has won 10 La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and the Ballon d’Or six times.
His rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo at the very top level of the world game has captivated fans for years, and he picked up his first international trophy with Argentina at this summer’s Copa America.
Messi came close to leaving Barca last summer having believed he was entitled to walk away due to a clause in his contract, only to end up staying on for another year.
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He had appeared to have agreed the terms of a new five-year deal only last month, but Barca’s financial issues meant that the club weren’t able to complete negotiations without falling foul of financial fair play regulations.
Returning president Joan Laporta had made it his No.1 priority to keep the club icon at Barcelona, having won re-election earlier this year.
The elections were held against the backdrop of the club being on the verge of bankruptcy, and with deep rooted financial issues that La Liga have been determined to police.
Fans gathered at the Nou Camp on Thursday evening following the news that Messi is to leave.
He hasn’t been contracted to Barca for five weeks, but there was widespread confidence that he would agree a new deal and stay at the club.
However, he is now set to become the most sought-after free transfer of all-time, with Paris Saint-Germain the early frontrunners for his signature.
Manchester City are also strongly linked with a move for him, but on Thursday they completed the £100m signing of Jack Grealish and then remain keen on Harry Kane.