Sources had told ESPN the 34-year-old had reached an agreement to sign a new five-year deal at Camp Nou, extending his 21-year link with the club, which included a considerable wage reduction. However, Barca announced on Thursday that Messi will not continue at the club with his contract having expired on June 30.
The club’s financial problems prevented Barca from completing the signing of the new contract for the Argentina captain, who earlier this month won the Copa America — his first major trophy with his country.
Barca president Joan Laporta said in a news conference on Friday that Messi was devastated that he will not remain in Barcelona.
“Leo wanted to stay, so he’s not happy,” Laporta said. “We all wanted him to stay, but now, like us, he is facing the reality of what’s happened. A reality that can’t be changed.”
Messi has remained silent since the announcement was made. Barcelona players past and present have made tributes to Messi, who, sources have told ESPN, has been offered a three-year deal by Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi had first expressed a desire to leave Barca in August 2020 after the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. His relationship with then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu had reached a breaking point. In an interview the following month, after Barca had blocked his departure, Messi called Bartomeu a “liar” and said the board had been “making things up as they go along” and “plugging holes” for years.
Bartomeu, facing a vote of no confidence, resigned last October and was eventually replaced by Laporta in March. Laporta has a good relationship with Messi and his family. He was Barca’s president when Messi made his first-team debut and when he signed his first professional contract.
Despite all efforts in recent months, Messi’s contract could not be completed.
Barca take on Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Juventus at the Gamper on Sunday evening at the Johan Cruyff stadium. The annual Gamper trophy allows Barca to present the squad for the upcoming season and also welcome their new signings.