Tearful Messi Confirms Barcelona Departure In Emotional Farewell

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A tearful Lionel Messi confirmed on Sunday he was leaving FC Barcelona after the club said it could no longer afford paying the Argentine’s high wages, adding he was in negotiations with French club Paris St Germain over a possible move.

While Messi did not confirm he would definitely join the PSG, he said his plans were to carry on playing as long as possible, adding he still harbours ambitions to win another Champions League trophy.

Messi, 34, who has been at Barcelona for 21 years, becoming their all-time goalscorer with 682, broke down in tears before giving a speech and was greeted by a lengthy standing ovation from the media, current and former team mates and coaches in attendance.

“As long as I go on being competitive and as long as my body responds (I’ll carry on playing),” Messi told a news conference.“As long as I can, I will carry on competing.”

Lionel Messi during FC Barcelona press conference

“I tried to behave with humility and respect and I hope that is what remains of me when I leave the club. This is all like a bucket of cold water has been poured over me and we are still coming to terms with it. When I get home, I’m sure it’ll be even worse,” Messi said through tears.

“But I’ll be surrounded by my loved ones and I’ll carry on playing football, and when I do so, I’m sure it’ll become a bit easier.” 

It had been widely reported by local media that Messi was set to stay at Camp Nou, with the player admitting he had agreed to a five-year deal involving a 50% pay-cut.

Lionel Messi’s 35 trophies won with FC Barcelona

Barca, whose debts total way over 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion), were unable to make the deal work within the frameworks of La Liga’s financial fair play regulations – prompting their surprise U-turn announcement last Thursday.

“Honestly, when the elections happened (in March), I spoke with (Barca president Joan) Laporta, we had dinner and after that I was convinced I would be staying,” Messi said.

“My contract was never the issue. What I know is that I did everything I could. The club say it could not happen because of La Liga. I can guarantee you that I did everything I could to stay. Last year I didn’t want to and I said that, but this year it was different.”

La Liga announced last Wednesday that it had secured a private equity injection of 2.7 billion euros from a firm, CVC, with the funds to be shared amongst the clubs in return for a 10% of the league’s revenue. It had been believed this would allow Barcelona to get the Messi deal over the line.

However, after Real Madrid rejected the proposal and said they would take legal action against La Liga, Barcelona also came out against it.

Laporta told a news conference on Friday that the league informed him that accepting this injection was the only way they would approve a new contract for Messi, and that he had to put the long-term interests of the club above any player.

Chidi Nwoke/Reuters.

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