Barcelona have announced that Lionel Messi is leaving the club after “financial and structural obstacles” made it impossible to renew his contract. The forward, who has spent his whole career there, had been expected to re-sign after his deal expired in June.
The full statement released this evening reads:
“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 Liga regulations).
“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, 33, joined Barcelona as a 13-year-old, but has been a free agent since his previous four-year deal expired on 30 June.
His future with Barcelona has been severely complicated by the club’s financial problems. He agreed a new deal on reduced wages with club two weeks later, but it was dependent on Barca selling players to afford his salary.
Messi will no doubt be the most sought after player in this years transfer market.