FC Barcelona announce Messi’s departure

Barcelona, Aug 5 (EFE).- Lionel Messi will not ink a new contract with FC Barcelona due to “financial and structural obstacles,” the club said Thursday.

“Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles,” the team said in a statement that attributed the problem to LaLiga regulations.

The 34-year-old Argentine superstar has spent his entire senior career with the Catalan side.

“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled,” the team said, going on to thank the striker for his contributions over the course of 17 seasons.

Highlights of the Messi era at Barcelona include 10 LaLiga crowns and four Champions League titles.

The side has also won the Copa del Rey seven times with the six-time Ballon d’Or recipient.

Messi, the top scorer in LaLiga history, sought to leave Barça in August 2020 with a year left on his contract amid a conflict with the club’s then-president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.

But with the subsequent ouster of Bartomeu in favor of Joan Laporta, all indications were that Messi would sign a new two-year deal to replace the contract that expired June 30.

Throughout the summer, Laporta has been upbeat on the prospects for a new contract with Messi, identifying LaLiga’s financial fair-play rules as the only potential stumbling block.

Wednesday’s announcement that LaLiga sold a share in its operation to CVC Capital Partners for 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion) appeared to clear the way for Barça to reach an agreement with Messi and for archrivals Real Madrid to pursue their goal of acquiring Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain.

The player returned to Barcelona on Wednesday after his summer break and his father and agent, Jorge Messi, arrived here 24 hours later for talks with Laporta to put the finishing touches on the contract.

Laporta scheduled a press conference for Friday to explain the circumstances that led to the collapse of the deal.

Hours before what Argentine sports daily Ole described as the “global bombshell” about Messi’s departure, Real Madrid rejected the investment accord between LaLiga and CVC. EFE gmh/dr

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