Lionel Messi in tears, confirms he's leaving Barcelona
A tearful Lionel Messi confirmed on Sunday he was leaving FC Barcelona after the club said it could no longer afford paying its Argentine talisman's high wages without jeopardising its future. "I tried to behave with humility and respect and I hope that is what remains of me when I leave the club," an emotional Messi told a news conference as hundreds of fans, many wearing his No. 10 jersey, massed outside Barca's Camp Nou stadium to bid farewell to the player they called Messiah.
The Lionel Messi era at Barcelona is really over. pic.twitter.com/riq6gPD2Jo— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 8, 2021
The 34-year-old, who has been at the club for 21 years, becoming its all-time goalscorer with 682, broke down in tears before giving a speech and was greeted by a lengthy standing ovation from the media, current and former team mates and coaches in attendance. Messi did not say what his immediate plans were, but after French newspaper L'Equipe reported on Friday that he was set to join Paris St Germain after their manager Mauricio Pochettino told reporters that Messi was an "option", the Argentine confirmed that it was "a possibility". However, he insisted that at this moment in time, he has not agreed a move anywhere.
August 8, 2021
Negotiations on between PSG and Messi
Paris Saint-Germain and Lionel Messi are in negotiations on a contract after financially troubled Barcelona was unable to keep the superstar, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Messi's legal team is in Paris and negotiations have seen an annual net salary of around 25 million euros ( 29.5 million) discussed which would be lower than his Barcelona pay, the person said on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing talks.
Barcelona bid farewell to Messi in statements and social media posts on Thursday, making him the most desired free agent in soccer history after his contract expired. The Catalan club had hoped to keep Messi, who agreed to a pay cut, but it still wouldn't have complied with the Spanish league's financial regulations.
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino was in contact with his fellow Argentine as Barcelona announced on Thursday that Messi would be leaving the club he joined as a 13-year-old before winning every major trophy and world player of the year titles. Funded for a decade by Qatari sovereign wealth, PSG is one of the few clubs in the world that can finance a deal. The club is exploring sponsorship deals in South America on the back of being able to sign Messi.
There was no immediate response from Messi's media team. PSG, which was opening its French league campaign later Saturday against Troyes, didn't respond to an email with questions seeking comment.
Messi led Barcelona to 35 titles, including four Champions League crowns, while also earning a record six Ballon d'Or awards. But club president Joan Laporta deemed retaining the best player in club history, even at a 50% discount to his previous wages, as too risky to its beleaguered finances.
(With Reuters, AP inputs)