Lionel Messi opened up on the reasons for his departure from Barcelona after saying an emotional goodbye to the Catalan giants on Sunday at a farewell press conference at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona shocked the world on Thursday by announcing Messi’s departure, and the 34-year-old has now confirmed the news and admitted he did not want to leave the club, as reported by The Athletic’s Dermot Corrigan.
“I thought it was all sorted, all agreed, then in the last moment it was not possible due to La Liga issue. That is what happened,” he said. “I cannot say about the club, Laporta says they cannot due to La Liga. I can only say I did everything possible to stay here. I wanted to say, last year I didn’t, I said that, this year I wanted to stay, but I couldn’t.”
Barcelona reported debts of €1.2 billion (£1.1b/$1.5b) in January, and president Joan Laporta told a news conference on Friday that Barca is expecting losses of €487 million from last season.
Messi said he was willing to reduce his salary significantly but that was still not enough for Barca to comply with La Liga’s salary cap.
“I had lowered my salary by 50%, agreed that, and they (Barca) did not ask me for anything else after that. Many things are said which are not true. I only know it is not possible for La Liga, for the club’s debts, that the club cannot go further in debt,” he explained, “The talks stopped as Barca did not want to go on, they knew La Liga would not let it happen, it was impossible. And I had to look to continue my career too, what I would do from now.”
The Argentine was in tears from the first moment he arrived at the press conference, as were many of his teammates in the audience, and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
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Messi Was ‘Convinced’ He Would Stay
News of Messi’s departure shocked the Argentine and his family as well as supporters and the wider football world. The forward opened up on how he felt once he heard it would be impossible for him to stay on.
“My blood ran cold, it was really sad, really difficult, even now I’m still trying to process it all” he said. “When I go home I’m still going to feel bad about the whole thing but the important thing is we’re OK, my family, my loved ones and that I get to keep playing football which is what I like doing more than anything else. We move on.”
Messi had been expected to sign a new deal that would keep him playing at Barcelona for another two seasons but will now continue his career away from the Camp Nou. It’s not a situation the Argentine envisaged this summer.
“This year my family and I were convinced we would stay here. This is what we all wanted more than anything. We’ve made this our home. We thought we’d be staying here. The times we’ve had here have been amazing but today I have to say goodbye to all of this,” he added. “I’ve been here since I was 13. After 21 years I’m leaving with my wife, with my three little Catalan-Argentine kids. I’m just really grateful for everything to all my teammates, my former teammates, everyone at the club, who has been by my side. all the people, there are so mamy people. I thank everyone for the love I’ve had to live so many experiences, so many beautiful things that have happened.”
Where Next For Messi?
Messi is being heavily linked with a move to French side Paris Saint-Germain where he would join former Barca teammate Neymar and Argentina colleagues such as Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes.
The Barcelona legend was asked about the speculation but insisted he has not reached an agreement with any club just yet but has received plenty of interest.
He said, “PSG is a possibility, but sincerely as of today there is nothing agreed with anyone. When the statement came out, I had many calls, various clubs were interested,” he said. “But I have nothing closed yet. But we are talking.”
Yet a deal is expected to go through quickly. ESPN’s Julien Laurens reports Messi could have a medical on Sunday or Monday before signing on with Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
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