On Friday, Barcelona President Joan Laporta had announced the club could not re-sign their greatest player due to the deep financial issues that the club had.
Messi has became a free agent upon the expiration of his contract at Barca in June, but Barca couldn’t re-sign the 34-year-old without exceeding La Liga’s wage limit.
Today, it was Messi’s turn to say good bye. Not in the way that he wanted, in front of a packed Camp Nou, but instead in the press room at the stadium.
“This is very difficult, I was not prepared for this. Last year I was convinced to leave, but this year we were going to stay, my family and I wanted to continue here, in our house,” said Messi.
“After 21 years I’m leaving with my three Catalan-Argentine kids. We’ve lived in this city, this is our home. I’m just really grateful for everything, all my team-mates, everyone who has been by my side.
“I gave everything for this club from the first day I arrived to the last. I never imagined having to say goodbye as I didn’t think about it. What’s clear is I did everything possible, and they (Barca) couldn’t do it because of La Liga.
“A lot of things have been said about me, but on my behalf we did everything I could because I wanted to stay. Last year I didn’t want to stay and I said it. This year I did and I couldn’t.
“I love this club. Without seeing the fans for over a year-and-a-half has been very hard. If I had imagined it [his leaving speech] I would’ve imagined the Camp Nou full and being able to say goodbye properly.”
Messi departs Barcelona as their all-time top-scorer with 672 goals to his name from 778 appearances across all competitions.
The diminutive magician is widely regarded as the finest player to have ever graced the Camp Nou turf, and has won a record six Ballon d’Or awards during his 21-year stay at the club.
Messi has also picked up 34 team trophies with Barca, including 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns, with the 2020-21 Copa del Rey the latest piece of silverware added to his illustrious CV.
But he is expected to add to that trophy count when he signs, as expected for Paris Saint-Germain, in the coming week.