After a golden family vacation in Key Biscayne, Lionel Messi, arguably the world’s best soccer player will leave the FC \Barcelona club he has played for the last 17-years.
The club reported Thursday that the Argentine star will not continue in its ranks because the financial rules of the Spanish league make it impossible for the top scorer in Barça's history to remain. Messi is leaving after 17 successful seasons, in which he has led the Catalan team to numerous national and international titles since he made his debut in his teens.
Through a statement, the club reported that a new agreement had been reached, but a series of financial "obstacles" made it impossible for the star to remain with the team.
"Despite having reached an agreement between FC Barcelona and Leo Messi and with the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, it cannot be formalized due to economic and structural obstacles," detailed Barcelona via a statement Thursday.
The club blamed "Spanish La Liga regulations" for not allowing him to sign a new contract with the Argentine star.
Last month, while Messi was enjoying a vacation on Key Biscayne that include his entire family, the 34-year-old attacker contract with the team expired, effective June 30.
"Barça would like to thank with all its heart the player's contribution to the growth of the institution and wish him the best in his personal and professional life," the statement concluded.
Messi had asked to be released at the end of last season, but then-president Josep Bartomeu did not accept the request. Joan Laporta succeeded Bartomeu and seemed to have convinced Messi to stay. But he recently said it was problematic to fit the Argentine into the club's financial structure without violating the league's salary cap.
The difficulties arose even after Messi accepted a considerable reduction in his salary.
Messi has earned 138 million euros ($163 million) per season since 2017, the last time he renewed his contract.
Barcelona was one of the clubs hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The league lowered salary caps last season and the club tried to meet the new cap by cutting players. It only incorporated free players, including Memphis Depay, Sergio Agüero, and Eric Garcia, to avoid having to pay for their transfers.
It is not clear if Messi is already negotiating with other clubs, although in the past he was linked to Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain, two teams with substantioal financial backing.
Messi’s Barca career ends with 35 titles, including four editions of the Champions League, ten Spanish league crowns, seven Copa del Rey, and eight of the Spanish Super Cup. While with Barça Messi won the Ballon d'Or for the best player in the world six times. He is the top scorer in the club's history with 672 goals in 778 games and the top gunner in the Spanish league with 474 goals in 520 appearances. He is also the player who has played the most games with the Blaugrana jersey.
Messi arrived at Barcelona at the age of 13 to join its youth academy. He officially debuted on October 16, 2004.