Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona despite both parties having reached an agreement over a new contract, the La Liga club said on Thursday, citing economic and structural obstacles to the renewal of deal.
Messi held talks with the club on Thursday but the meeting did not go well and the Catalan side have confirmed he will not return.
“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 La Liga regulations),” Barca said in a statement.
“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 was free to negotiate a transfer with other clubs after his deal ran out at the end of June, but Barcelona had always maintained he wanted to stay with the club. The 34-year-old was reported to sign a new five-year deal.
Messi had tried to leave Barcelona in August 2020, making a formal request for an exit after a breakdown in his relationship with then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu but successor Joan Laporta, who presided over the Argentine’s rise to greatness, convinced him to stay.
Messi has spent his entire career at Barcelona, coming through the club’s academy before going on to score 672 goals in 778 appearances after making his senior debut in 2003.