After 21 years, or about 17 successful seasons at Camp Nou, Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi is leaving FC Barcelona due to the team’s financial limitations, the Spanish club confirmed. The 34-year-old, who made his Barcelona debut in 2004, has won 10 La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues with the Catalan club. Follow us for more live soccer and football fixtures.
“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 (in Spanish LaLiga regulations),” FC Barcelona said in a statement. “Faced with this situation, Lionel Messi will not continue to be linked to FC Barcelona.”
Earlier, Messi and Barcelona have reportedly reached a verbal agreement for a new five-year deal extension of his already expired contract, with a significant wage reduction under terms of the new deal. His previous contract, signed in 2017, reportedly earned €138 million per season. Barcelona President Joan Laporta has also reiterated the club’s confidence that Lionel Messi will ink a new deal at Camp Nou.
However, La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned Barca they will not be allowed to register Messi’s new deal if they are unable to reduce spending to comply with the league’s Financial Fair Play rules. With that, to get Messi to commit to terms, he has to agree with a “significant pay cut”. Barca’s league campaign will kick off on August 15 against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.
The Barcelona talisman, who just won his first international trophy as Argentina clinched the 2021 Copa America, has won 35 trophies in 17 seasons with Barcelona and 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. He earned himself a record six Ballon d’Or awards while in the team.
He is currently the team’s all-time leading 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. His 26 goals against Real Madrid are a record for the ‘clasico’ matches against Barcelona’s fiercest rival. An official announcement about the signing is expected in the coming days.
Last season, Messi scored 30 goals and helped the team win the Copa del Rey title, Barcelona’s first trophy since 2019. Last month, Messi officially became a free agent after his contract with Barcelona expired at the end of June. The Argentine made no immediate public statement. He was earlier linked to Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.
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