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Lionel Messi is officially a PSG player. Just let that sink in for a
brief very long moment.
Messi began a brand new chapter of his legendary career, at the age of 34, when PSG announced on Tuesday that the Argentine great has signed a two-year, $104-million contract (reported figures) to join forces with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Angel di Maria and Sergio Ramos, among others.
Messi and his family arrived in Paris to nothing short of a hero’s welcome.
Messi will wear no. 30 — the number he wore when he made his professional debut back in 2004 — at PSG. The Evening Standard previously reported that Neymar, who currently wears the no. 10, offered the talismanic shirt to his dear friend, but Messi declined.
Messi was in tears over the weekend as he confirmed the news that Barcelona could not register him as a player due to contract rules with La Liga.
The legendary forward called a press conference at Barcelona’s Nou Camp home on Sunday and had the following to say about his unexpected departure.
“In recent days I’ve been thinking about what I can say. The truth is I can’t think of anything. This is really difficult for me after so many years, being here my entire life. I’m not ready for this,” Messi said as he fought back tears.
“This year my family and I were convinced we were going to stay here, at home, that is what we all wanted. We thought we would be staying here in Barcelona. The time we’ve had here has been amazing. Today I have to say goodbye to all of this.”
Messi shocked, stunned and sad
Messi was then asked how he felt when he was told the shock news by Barcelona, as they all believed he would be able to sign a new contract and continue his incredible career with the Spanish giants.
“It was like my blood ran cold. It was very sad, very difficult. Up until now we are still trying to process it all,” Messi said. “When I go home I will still feel very bad about the whole thing. I will still feel bad about it all. The important thing is that we are all okay, my family and loved ones and I get to keep playing football, which is what I love to do more than anything in the world.”
“I did everything I could to stay and it wasn’t possible. There is nothing more to say than that,” Messi added, as he said reports he asked for a 30-percent pay increase are a lie and he accepted a 50-percent wage decrease.
Barcelona held a news conference on Friday where club president Joan Laporta explained the financial problems which restricted them from signing Messi to a new deal.
Since then his Barcelona teammates have sent messages out on social media thanking him for his time at the club, as it seems as though this really is the end for the Argentine superstar as he’s going to leave the only club he has ever known.
Asked if he would be heading to Paris Saint-Germain, Messi confirmed it is a possibility.
“That is honestly one possibility. I’ve got nothing confirmed with anybody,” Messi said. “When the press release was published, got a lot of calls, lot of clubs interested. At the minute I’ve not got anything closed but we are talking about a lot of things.”
Barcelona president Laporta held his own press conference on after the club released a statement saying that could not sign Messi to a new contract due to La Liga rules over the size of the salary.
“We are over the salary limit that we are allowed. It is as simple as that,” Laporta confirmed.
The president said that Messi was told two days ago that the club could not continue with his new contract, which they planned to be for two years and they asked to spread the cost of that contract over five years.
Barcelona’s president said “I like to dream, but we have to live in the reality” when asked if Messi could play for Barcelona again if Financial Fair Play rules are relaxed by La Liga.
Laporta insisted that Messi and the club reached an agreement on a new contract but Spanish league rules won’t allow him to sign due to the financial situation the new club president inherited from former president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the mess they were left in.
“We have 122 years of history. We’ve been through everything and we’ve always come through. We want the post-Messi era to be very successful and I am convinced it will be,” Laporta said.
Laporta added that La Liga could be more flexible to make Messi’s new deal happen, as he repeatedly slammed their planned deal to sell 10 percent of the league to CVC Capital Partners from the USA.
“In the Spanish La Liga we have to abide by the rules. We think they can be more flexible. That is not an excuse, we knew the rules. We can’t abide by it. Leo deserves everything. He loves Barca. I’m sad but I’m convinced we’ve done best for FC Barcelona,” Laporta insisted.
“I can’t make a decision that will impact the club for the next 50 years,” Laporta added about the La Liga deal over the TV rights. “The club is over 100 years old and it is above everyone and everything. Even above the best player in the world. We will always thank him for everything he has done for us.”
Barcelona statement on situation
Barcelona confirmed 24 hours earlier in a statement that talks have broken down and Messi will leave:
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 (Spanish LaLiga regulations) .
Faced with this situation, Lionel Messi will not continue linked to FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of both the player and the Club cannot finally be fulfilled.
Barça would like to wholeheartedly thank the player for his contribution to the growth of the institution and wish him the best in his personal and professional life.
A report from Spanish newspaper Marca had earlier claimed that Messi “has never been further from renewing his Barcelona contract” with the issues separating the sides said to be “irreversible.”
Messi returned to Barcelona earlier this week, at which point it became clear to Messi and Barcelona president Joan Laporta that a solution could not be reached to register the 34-year-old for the upcoming season. It’s an unexpected U-turn after the sides reportedly agreed a new five-year deal (with a significant pay cut) just last month.