Lionel Messi (34) quit Barcelona after 21 years with the Catalonian club. The six-time ‘Ballon d’Or’ winner addressed fans and media during a press conference on Sunday.
Messi and Barca agreed on a five-year contract extension, with the Argentinean superstar taking a massive 50% pay cut to show his support for the financially troubled club. Leo returned to Barcelona during the week, but just hours before he and the Blaugrana club were supposed to make everything official shocking news broke out. Due to the strict economic rules imposed by the Spanish League, Barcelona couldn’t afford to re-sign Messi. Soon after the papers reported on the story, Barcelona released a statement confirming Messi will not extend his stay. Leo became a free agent at the end of June, but his continuation at Camp Nou was never in doubt until Thursday afternoon.
Various sources across the continent now claim Messi is finalizing the last details before his signing by PSG is announced.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 8, 2021
Messi: ‘I wasn’t prepared for this. Barcelona is our hone’
In tears, Messi explained what happened to him and his family during the last four days. The forward revealed he was sure he’d stay and that things changed since last year when he asked to leave.
“I had lowered my salary by 50% and then nothing was asked of me anymore,” Messi disclosed. “We did everything possible. What I read that I was asked for 30% more is a lie. Many things are not true. They [Barcelona] asked for nothing more,” he added.
“Barca are the biggest club in the world, a marvelous squad. People will get used to me not being here. Players come and go, just like [Joan] Laporta said, the club is bigger than any individual. The fans will get used to it, as they always do,” Messi said.
Asked if Barcelona did everything they could to keep him, Messi replied:
“I don’t know. What I have very clear is that I did everything I could. From my side, I did everything to stay, that is what I wanted.”
The strong message Messi sent through tears made many in the media room weep:
“We didn’t want to leave. I wasn’t ready. Last year, when I sent the letter to the club asking to leave, I was ready to speak up and I knew what I wanted to say. I was convinced. But that’s not the case now. My family and myself were convinced to stay in our home, that’s what we wanted.”
Along with his wife, Messi had his Barcelona colleagues with him. In front of the building, hundreds of supporters gathered to bid Messi farewell.
🔵🔴 Así está el acceso 14 por donde Leo Messi saldrá con su familia tras la despedida
➡️ Cientos de aficionados esperan la salida del astro argentino
— Tiempo de Juego (@tjcope) August 8, 2021
PSG could announce Messi in the next 72 hours
Messi said in his press conference that PSG is ‘a possibility’ for his future, but refused to commit to any club. The news in Paris is that a deal has already been agreed, with PSG now readying an official announcement. According to sources close to the Paris giants, the club even booked the Eiffel Tower for a special event next week.
Transfer market specialist Fabrizio Romano claims Leo’s father, Jorge, received the official contract from PSG this morning, after talking intensively to the club’s top management since Thursday. Messi and PSG now plan for Messi’s arrival in Paris and his medicals before the official transfer announcement. ESPN Argentina reveals Messi had three or four offers on the table, with a ‘team in Madrid’ also interested. It’s believed champions Atletico are the unnamed club.
Before today’s press conference, Messi wanted to talk to his best friends in the Barcelona team. Leo asked them to join him for dinner last night. Apart from Pique, Busquets, Jordi Alba, and their families, Messi also invited new Barcelona recruit Sergio Aguero to his house. Aguero just joined from Manchester City on the promise that he’ll be able to play in the same team as his best friend, Messi.
Ibai en la cena de despedida de Messi. Esto es increíble. pic.twitter.com/klpwNod49P
— Marc Morote (@MarcMorote) August 7, 2021