Barcelona have announced that Lionel Messi will leave the club after financial problems prevented them from agreeing with the forward on a new contract.
Messi, 34, has been a free agent since his previous terms expired on June 30, but ESPN revealed in July that a loose agreement over a five-year extension had been reached.
“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),” Barcelona 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 aggrandizement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life.”
This is the latest chapter in a saga that began a year ago when Messi first revealed he wanted to leave the only club he’d ever played for. Although he ultimately relented on taking Barcelona to court in order to get out of the last year of his contract, he contractual situation was never fully settled. Although it seemed as though the election of Joan Laporta to return to Barcelona as President made it likely Messi would stay, the details were never completely ironed out and now, it seems, La Liga rules continue to stand in the way.