Lionel Messi was left devastated by Barcelona’s final decision that they would not be able to renew his contract.
Despite agreeing the terms of an extension weeks ago, Barcelona have failed to balance the books enough to make room for Messi’s salary and the club confirmed on Thursday that La Liga rules meant renewing his contract was simply not possible.
The news of the breakdown in talks came as an enormous surprise as Messi‘s extension was initially expected to be finalised on Thursday, but things took a drastic turn out of nowhere and now the Argentine is on the lookout for a new club.
Having said that, he can’t have been that upset as Messi personally reached out to Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino later that evening to discuss a move to the Parc des Princes.
There have been rumours that this whole thing is an elaborate ploy from Barcelona to put pressure on La Liga to help them to retain Messi, but president Joan Laporta has already dismissed that and has instead focused on paying tribute to the 34-year-old.
“Leo’s legacy is excellent,” he said (via Football Espana). “Leo has made history. he is the player with the most success in the history of the club in an era which has been splendid, the best era of Barca’s history up until today.
“I hope we can overcome this situation. A new era starts now. There will be a before and after Leo, as there was with other great players. All of us, there will be demands on us. We are up for the challenge. We are more motivated than ever for Barca, without Messi, to continue to be successful.
“It’s obviously sad that we cannot pay homage to him in a way that we would have wanted to do in two years, with fans in the stands. It could have been a nicer way, but circumstances are what they are. It’s very sad.
“Leo wanted to stay. So, he is not happy. We all wanted him to stay, but for him right now, it is a situation where he has to confront reality and he knows that I wish him the best, wherever he goes. Barca is his home.”