Barcelona have confirmed that Lionel Messi will not sign a new contract and is therefore ending his career-defining association with the club.
Messi’s future has proved a topic of increased debate ever since he entered the final year of his deal last summer. Following his attempts to leave last summer, he eventually stayed put. But after Joan Laporta became president in March this year, he made a pledge to keep the star at the club.
Negotiations had progressed and reports earlier this week claimed the new deal looked close. He has been a free agent since July 1 following his previous terms expiring.
However, Marca revealed on Thursday evening that all was not as it seemed. Messi was in fact further away from extending his ties with the club than ever before, the source said.
A statement from the Spanish club has now confirmed the news. They 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).
“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.”
Messi’s exit comes as the end of an era not just for Barcelona, but for the whole of European football.
The Argentine has been with Barca his whole career and made his competitive debut in November 2003.
Since then, he has broken a host of records, with six Ballon d’Or crowns arguably his ultimate achievements.
Along the way, though, he has scored 672 goals and assisted 305 others in 778 games.
In La Liga, he has directly contributed to 691 goals in 520 outings.
Barcelona’s financial ruin hampered Messi
As outlined by The Guardian, Barcelona’s dire financial situation has not helped the situation with Messi.
The club needed to shift players from their current squad to make room for his new five-year contract and keep within La Liga’s salary cap and financial fair play regulations. That is despite the new deal featuring reduced wages.
However, they have failed to find a suitable outcome. Barcelona’s total current debt stands at €1,173million, the newspaper adds.
Messi’s new contract would have seen his salary reduced from €45million (£38million) to closer to €20million (£17million).