Argentine superstar Lionel Messi will not sign a new deal with Barcelona, ending his two-decade stay at the Nou Camp, the Spanish giants have said.
“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),” Barcelona said on Thursday about the player who became a free agent after his deal expired on June 30.
“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.”
The announcement brings to an end a 20-year trophy-laden career that saw the 34-year-old winning six Ballon d’Ors.
Messi played 778 games for Barcelona and scored 672 goals.
“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 club added.
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Before the recent announcement, multiple reports had suggested that the superstar had inked a five-year contract with the Nou Camp team.
But earlier in the day, reports emerged of a breakdown in talks between the club and the player’s representatives.
The 2008 Olympic gold medalist was expected to take a huge pay cut to stay at Barcelona under the new salary cap imposed by La Liga.
Messi had kept mum over his plans, granting only a couple of interviews about the contract saga where he only admitted that “nothing has been decided.”
Reports in Spain suggested that Barcelona – struggling to pay off their huge debts – paid Messi 555 million euros paid over four seasons from November 2017 to the end of last month.
While the recent announcement will help cash-strapped Barca free up much-needed funds, many fans won’t be happy with the move which they believe would strengthen their European rivals.
A host of top sides including English giants, Manchester City and Manchester United; and Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with a move for the Argentine skipper.