Tears, Veiled Attack on La Liga, PSG Talks: Messi Breaks Silence on Barcelona Exit at Final Presser
10:12 GMT 08.08.2021 (Updated: 11:41 GMT 08.08.2021)
On 5 August, it became known that the Argentine striker, widely considered the best player in the history of football, will not continue with Barcelona. The club released a statement saying the sides couldn't sign a new agreement because of "financial and structural obstacles".
Football superstar Lionel Messi has been moved to tears as he bid farewell to Barcelona at a press conference. The 34-year-old star said he never imagined he would leave the club, where he spent almost 20 years. The striker said the rules set by the top Spanish football division La Liga would not allow him to renew his contract with the club.
"I did everything I could to stay at Barcelona", said the athlete.
The Argentine superstar said that during his time at Camp Nou he tried to behave with humility and respect.
"[I] hope that's the memory that will be left of me".
The 34-year-old, who has been linked to many European super clubs, revealed he still has not made up his mind about the future after leaving the Catalan giants, though he did confirm long-standing rumours that he is in talks with Paris Saint-Germain and may join the French club.
'At the Last Minute It Couldn't Happen'
For months, Barcelona President Joan Laporta has been making positive statements about the new contract with Messi. The athlete's entourage too signalled that both sides were on the verge of striking a deal. Then on 5 August the club shocked fans revealing that Messi would not be staying on with Barcelona.
On Friday, Joan Laporta revealed that a recent financial audit showed the club's finances are worse than the new board of directors thought and that signing Messi would have put the team at financial risk for 50 years. Laporta stressed that the club is at the limit for salaries even without Messi. Re-signing the Argentine superstar meant that the club would have to spend more than it earns.
"The club is above everyone and everything, even above the best player of the world", Barca's president said, before adding that the club has to honour the rules set by La Liga.
During his final press conference, Lionel Messi essentially confirmed media reports and echoed Laporta's statements. He said both sides had everything agreed, but "at the last minute it couldn't happen". "As the president explained, the club have debt and we couldn't do it".
When asked if he could have played for less money, the striker said the following:
"I offered to drop my wage by 50 percent and Barcelona asked for nothing more. It was agreed but it wasn't to be. Like I said before, I did everything I could to stay. There is nothing else to say".
The striker said leaving Barcelona is the hardest moment of his career, but admitted that he has to move on.
"As long as I can, I will carry on competing. The last few years of my career I'm going to fight for titles. I want to win. There's no doubt that I will leave and join a club that competes with Barcelona. I didn't want to leave but I want to continue winning".
During his almost 20 years at Camp Nou, Messi became the club's record scorer with 672 goals and has won ten La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies.
He is also a seven-time winner of the Copa del Rey, a three-time winner of the UEFA Supercup, an eight-time winner of the Supercopa de España, and a six-time winner of the Ballon d'Or, the most prestigious individual award in football.