Sports

Soccer superstar Lionel Messi will leave longtime club Barcelona in shocking move

Summary List PlacementSoccer superstar Lionel Messi is leaving FC Barcelona, his longtime club announced on Thursday. The stunning move marks the end of an era for the soccer legend, who has spent his entire career at Barcelona, notching over a dozen combined La Liga and Champions League titles and winning the Ballon d'Or award as Europe's top player six times. Barcelona said in its statement that the club and Messi had reached an agreement to keep him on the team, but "financial and structural obstacles" had stopped it from going through. "Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and...

Messi

Summary List Placement

Soccer superstar Lionel Messi is leaving FC Barcelona, his longtime club announced on Thursday.

The stunning move marks the end of an era for the soccer legend, who has spent his entire career at Barcelona, notching over a dozen combined La Liga and Champions League titles and winning the Ballon d’Or award as Europe’s top player six times.

Barcelona said in its statement that the club and Messi had reached an agreement to keep him on the team, but “financial and structural obstacles” had stopped it from going through.

“Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled,” the club said.

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

Messi’s status with Barcelona has been up in the air ever since he requested a transfer last summer. He ultimately withdrew that request, opting instead to play one more season with his boyhood club.

After this contract expired at the end of the 2021 season, Messi became a free agent, but had been expected to sign a fresh deal with Barcelona.

Reports in Spain in July suggested that he would sign a new deal on a significantly lower wage, reflecting the club’s poor financial situation.

Barcelona has struggled for many years with an inflated wage bill, and faces a struggle to lower its spending, even without Messi on its books.

It was reported in July that the club would not be able to register any of its new signings, or Messi, without substantially cutting its current wage bill.

It was previously reported that the Catalan club has exceeded La Liga’s strict salary limit and needs to reduce its wage bill by €200 million ($237 million) per year in order to register Messi, as well as summer signings Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, and Emerson Royal with the league.

Where next for Messi?

Barcelona's Lionel Messi raises two fingers in celebration

What Messi does next is uncertain as of Thursday, with very few soccer teams likely able to afford his astronomical wages, which are reported to be around $610,000 per week.

Ever since Messi’s failed attempt to leave the club last year, he has been linked with a move to either Manchester City or PSG, two state-owned clubs with the biggest budgets in the sport.

Manchester City, however, seems unlikely to pursue Messi at the present moment, given it is imminently expected to announce the signing of Premier League star Jack Grealish for around $140 million, and is pursuing England captain Harry Kane, reportedly for a similar fee to Grealish.

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