×

Sports

End of an Era: Lionel Messi to Leave FC Barcelona

With the club, Messi earned himself a record six Ballon d'Or awards as the world's top player. He is the team's all-time scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances, and the top scorer in the Spanish league with 474 goals in 520 matches. He also is the player with most matches with the club.

23434
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi fights for the ball against Celta Vigo’s Fran Beltran during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Celta at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, May. 16, 2021. AP/PTI

Barcelona: In what comes as one of the biggest news in the football world, Lionel Messi will be leaving FC Barcelona.

As per the club, the reason behind the exit is the financial and structural obstacles.

Despite Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract on Thursday, this cannot happen because of Spanish LaLiga regulations on player registration as per the club statement.

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 statement further said.

“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,” it said as per fcbarcelona.com.

Earlier it was reported Messi was all set to sign a new five-year contract with Spanish club Barcelona. Along with signing a new deal, Messi would also be taking a 50 per cent wage cut, Goal.com had reported.

Messi had asked to leave Barcelona for free at the end of last season but had his request denied by then-president Josep Bartomeu. Joan Laporta took over the presidency and appeared to have convinced Messi to stay. But Laporta had said recently that the club was struggling to fit the player’s salary — even with hefty reductions accepted by the player — into the league-controlled salary cap.

The report had said Messi agreed to take a cut on his yearly earnings in order to re-sign for Barcelona, and the club would make a formal announcement in the coming weeks. Messi has spent his entire career with Barcelona after signing on with the club in 2004. His contract expired in June this year, but he is was set to sign a new deal with the Catalan side.

The striker earned EUR550 million (£468m/$650m) over the course of his last five-year contract at Camp Nou, which equates to around EUR75m (£64m/$89m) per season.

Barcelona was one of the clubs hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The league slashed its salary cap last season and the club had been trying to clear cap space by releasing some of its players. It had only signed free agents this summer — including Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia — to avoid paying transfer fees.

It was unclear whether Messi was already in talks with other clubs, but he has previously been linked with cash-rich Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

The Argentine made no immediate public statement.

Messi will be leaving after having won 35 titles. He helped the club win the Champions League four times, the Spanish league 10 times, the Copa del Rey seven times and the Spanish Super Cup eight times.

While with the club, Messi earned himself a record six Ballon d’Or awards as the world’s top player. He is the team’s all-time scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances, and the top scorer in the Spanish league with 474 goals in 520 matches. He also is the player with most matches with the club.

He was the top scorer in the Spanish league in eight seasons, and the top scorer in the Champions League on six occasions. His 26 goals against Real Madrid are a record for the “clásico” matches against Barcelona”s fiercest rival.

Messi arrived at Barcelona at age 13, when he and his family came to Spain to try his luck at Barcelona”s youth academy. He made his official debut on Oct. 16, 2004, and two years later helped the club win its first Champions League in a squad led by Ronaldinho.

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)