I have written a lot over the last two years about Lionel Messi’s fractured relationship with FC Barcelona and the possibility of him leaving the club this summer on a free transfer. But still, when the news broke today that Messi was leaving Barcelona, it was a shock, and headline news around the world.
Some background on today’s announcement. Messi became a free agent last month after his original contract with Barca expired. Press reports indicated, however, that he was set to re-sign with the club albeit on lower pay terms.
But Barcelona has announced that the agreement is dead due to the club being able to fit Messi’s salary into their wage cap due to Spanish LaLiga regulations.
Issuing a shock statement on Thursday evening, Barcelona said:
‘Despite having reached an agreement between FC Barcelona and Leo Messi and with the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, it cannot be formalized due to economic and structural obstacles (Spanish LaLiga regulations) .
‘Given this situation, Lionel Messi will not continue linked to FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of both the player and the Club cannot finally be fulfilled.
‘Barca would like to thank with all its heart the player’s contribution to the enhancement of the institution and wishes him the best in his personal and professional life.’
Messi has been heavily linked with both Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain in the past, and the two nation-owned clubs are probably the only ones who could afford Messi’s wages.
Messi moved to Camp Nou at the age of 13 and progressed through the youth system to make his debut in 2003 when he was just 16.
Messi recently won a major trophy with Argentina for the first time, helping them to Copa America success this year.