Lionel Messi will hold a press conference at Camp Nou on Sunday to explain his dramatic exit from Barcelona.
Potentially the greatest to ever play the game, Messi was widely expected to see out his career at Camp Nou and pen a new five-year deal – even though Barça are crippled financially and have been desperately trying to sell off any and all assets to ensure they can comply with La Liga’s salary cap rules.
But in a dramatic turn of events on Thursday night, Barcelona revealed that they simply cannot afford to keep hold of Messi – announcing his departure in a statement that has sent shockwaves around the footballing world.
The 34-year-old is expected to rock up at PSG, where he’s been tipped to sign a mega-money two-year contract worth €40m (£34m) a year after tax. That will make him the club’s highest earner, taking home more than Neymar – who is thought to earn around £4m less – and Kylian Mbappe, who has thus far refused to extend his contract in the French capital.
Before a move to PSG is completed though, Messi will front up before the media at Camp Nou to address his exit from the club. It’s expected to be an emotional affair, given his long and illustrious association with Barcelona.
Messi confessed when he was a child that it was a dream of his to play for Barcelona, the club legendary fellow countryman Diego Maradona had represented in the 80s, and he got his wish in 2000 when he joined the club’s famous La Masia academy.
He spent three years honing his craft at youth levels before stepping up to the club’s C and B teams between 2003 and 2005. He made his first team breakthrough around the same time, playing alongside the likes of Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o in a fearsome front three.
By 2008, Messi was a superstar of world football, and it became apparent to worldwide audiences that he was no ordinary footballer; he was a genius. With his success unparalleled and his legend everlasting, he has now departed Barcelona after two decades at the club – having made 778 first team appearances.
In that time, he scored a ridiculous 662 goals – including 73 in all competitions during the 2011/12 season, 50 of which came in just 37 La Liga games.