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Barcelona said they couldn’t afford to keep the Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi after 21 years.
Messi in tears at the Press Conference

Lionel Messi held back tears as he opened a press conference in Camp Nou announcing his departure from Barcelona, the club where he has spent his entire career. He was emotional even before he made his first statement.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about what I could say in the last few days, and the reality is that I can’t think of anything,” Messi said at a news conference as hundreds of fans, many wearing his number 10 jersey, gathered outside Barca’s Camp Nou stadium to bid the star farewell.

“After so many years, having lived here my entire life, I’m not ready for this, and honestly, last year with all the craziness, I was confident I knew what I wanted to say, but this year is not the same.” He asked to leave the club last year but afterwards changed his mind. This time he agreed to stay, but because of financial issues at Barca, the transaction was not approved by La Liga.

He is out of contract and will be free to depart, with Messi, a six-time Ballon d’Or winner, stating that a move to Paris Saint-Germain is now “possible” but that he has yet to reach a formal deal with anyone. With 682 goals in 21 years with Barcelona, the 34-year-old has became the club’s all-time leading scorer.

“My family and I were both persuaded that I wanted to stay here; that was all we wanted. We assumed we’d stay in Barcelona, but today I have to say goodbye to it all,” he explained. “We’ve always considered this our home, and we assumed we’d be staying in Barcelona.”

“I’ve lived here for so long, since I was 13 years old. I’m leaving with my wife and three small Catalan-Argentine children after 21 years, and I can’t say we won’t return since this is my home, and I promised my children that. “I tried to conduct myself in a humble and respectful manner, and I hope that is what remains of me when I leave the club. “I’ll keep playing as long as I keep being competitive and as long as my body responds,” he continued. “I will compete for as long as I am able.”

Messi stated he thought he’d be staying at the club after agreeing to a five-year deal with a 50% wage reduction, only for a surprising U-turn late last week.

“It was never about my contract… all I know is that I did everything I could. Because of La Liga, the club claims it will not be possible. I can assure you that I tried everything in my power to remain.” After the news conference, all 35 trophies he earned during his stint at the club were set out for what the club described as a private photo session.

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