Lionel Messi: Barcelona say Argentina star is leaving club

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“Despite an agreement between the club and the player and their clear intention to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen due to financial and structural obstacles,” Barcelona said in a statement on their website .

The 34-year-old, who last month won his first Copa America with Argentina, admitted in the summer of 2020 that he had wanted to leave “all year round” and claimed that a clause in his contract allowed him to do it for free, but in the end Messi was forced to stay as Barcelona disagreed and were unwilling to reduce his € 700m ($ 897m) release clause .
The Argentine said his love for the club meant he had no intention of challenging the club’s decision in court and dragging out a legal dispute.

Messi’s previous contract, which expired at the end of June, was revealed by Spanish newspaper El Mundo to be worth $ 672 million and made him the highest-paid athlete in the history of the sport.

“Both sides deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club are ultimately not fulfilled,” the Barcelona statement added.

“FC Barcelona wholeheartedly express their gratitude to the player for his contribution to the club’s expansion and wish him the best for the future in his personal and professional life.”

Messi, who made his Barcelona debut in 2004, won 10 La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues with the Catalan club.

In April, Messi won his 35th trophy with the club as Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 4-0 in the Copa del Rey final.

As often before, it was Messi who stole the show, especially with Barcelona’s third goal and the Argentine’s first in the match.

Starting off well in his own half, Messi traded passes with Sergiño Dest, before sneaking forward and doing the same with Frenkie De Jong higher up the pitch.

De Jong’s return found Messi inside the penalty area and the Argentine jumped between two Bilbao defenders and coldly inserted the ball into the bottom corner.

It’s the kind of genius fans have grown used to seeing when looking at the diminutive No.10 and it was reminiscent of the first goal of the 2015 Copa del Rey final – also against Bilbao – widely regarded as one of the Messi’s greatest ever.

But the Copa del Rey triumph was Barcelona’s first trophy since 2019.

“It’s very special to be captain of this team where I have spent my whole life,” Messi said after the game. “And very special to be able to lift the cup.”

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