Lionel Messi is currently a free agent as the six-time Ballon d’Or winner and childhood club FC Barcelona have parted ways.
Despite both parties having reached an agreement over a new contract, the La Liga club said in a statement on Thursday that the deal could not be signed, citing economic and structural obstacles to the renewal of the contract.
The 34-year-old Messi, who had spent his whole career at Barcelona, was free to negotiate a transfer with other clubs after his deal ran out at the end of June but had been expected to sign a new five-year deal with the Catalan club, which would have included a salary reduction of 50%.
The statement on the club’s website read, “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, who joined Barca’s youth at the age of 13, is the club’s all-time top scorer and appearance maker with 672 goals in 778 games in all competitions.
Before this bombshell, there have been reported interests in signing the Argentinian star by the likes of Manchester City, PSG and even his boyhood club of Newell’s Boys.
Manchester City signing Lionel Messi would mean reuniting with his former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola. Pep Guardiola and Messi won two Champions Leagues together at Barça which has been a medal currently lacking for the former at the Etihad.
Guardiola has constantly said he hoped Messi would finish his career at Barça, but rumours persist in Spain that the duo have been in contact in recent days and Manchester City certainly have the financial muscle to fit in the super star.
Another big option for the Argentine is of course PSG who also have the financial strength and is a club that can fight for the champions league which has been a target for Messi
PSG, managed by Messi’s compatriot Mauricio Pochettino, was reported to have reached out immediately after it was announced that he was leaving Barcelona.
This will also be an opportunity for Messi to reunite and play with close friends Neymar and Angel Di Maria as well as rising star Kylian Mbappe.
Chelsea is another Premier League side that has the financial means to put together an offer for Messi or he might possibly return to Argentina with Newell’s Old Boys.