Barcelona confirm Lionel Messi will leave this summer after rejecting new contract

Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona (Picture: Getty)

Barcelona have confirmed Lionel Messi will leave the club this summer after the iconic forward turned down a new deal at the Camp Nou.

Messi, 34, widely regarded as the one of the greatest players in history, has been a free agent since his previous contract expired on July 1 and the two parties had verbally reached an agreement over a renewal.

But the Argentina international was less than impressed with the significant pay cut offered to him by the La Liga giants and discussions subsequently broke down.

The veteran attacker would have had to begrudgingly accept a 50 per cent wage reduction to stay on in Catalonia, where he has spent the entirety of his career since the age of 13.

Messi has been a free agent since July 1 (Picture: Getty)

Barcelona announced the earth-shattering news in an official statement on Thursday evening and said an agreement could not be reached with Messi due to ‘financial and structural obstacles’.

‘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 (Spanish Liga regulations),’ the statement read.

‘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.

‘FC Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life.’

Messi won the Copa America with Argentina earlier this summer (Picture: Getty)

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner came close to departing Barcelona last summer and handed in a transfer request after a bitter power struggle with Josep Maria Bartomeu, who subsequently quit as president.

However, the Catalan club refused to allow Messi leave unless his eye-watering €700million release clause was met by a potential suitor, effectively denying him a way out.

Champions League powerhouses Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are thought to frontrunners in the race for Messi’s signature but the Argentinian has also flirted with the idea of a switch to MLS.

Messi accumulated a total of 35 trophies across his 17-year spell in Barcelona’s first-team, one shy of Ryan Giggs’ all-time record for a single club.

The forward is Barca’s all-time record scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances and his exit leaves behind an enormous void to fill, with the new La Liga campaign kicking off in just over a weeks’ time.

More to follow.


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