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Barcelona says Lionel Messi won’t remain with the club

Barcelona's Lionel Messi walks on the field during a game against Huesca on March 15 at the Camp Nou stadium.
(Joan Monfort / Associated Press)

Lionel Messi‘s time at Barcelona appears to be over.

Barcelona announced Thursday that Messi will not stay with the club, saying that the Spanish league’s financial regulations made it impossible to sign the Argentina star to a new contract.

He is leaving after 17 successful seasons in which he propelled the Catalan club to glory, helping it win numerous domestic and international titles since debuting as a teenager.

Barcelona said in a statement that a deal for a new contract had been reached but financial “obstacles” made it impossible for the player to remain with the club.

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“Despite club and player reaching an agreement and their clear intention to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles,” the club said.

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It blamed “Spanish league regulations” for not allowing the club to sign a new contract with Messi. His previous one had ended on June 30.

“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona,” it said. “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,” the statement said.

Messi had asked to leave Barcelona for free at the end of last season but had his request denied by then-president Josep Bartomeu. Joan Laporta took over the presidency and appeared to have convinced Messi to stay. But Laporta had said recently that the club was struggling to fit the player’s salary — even with hefty reductions accepted by the player — into the league-controlled salary cap.

In Messi’s previous contract, signed in 2017, he reportedly earned $163 million per season.

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The league announced Wednesday that it secured $3.2 billion in private equity funding to help the clubs, which appeared to pave the way for Barcelona to re-sign the Argentina star. But the deal with Messi fell through after club officials met with the player’s representatives in Barcelona on Thursday. Some local reports said it was Messi who had changed his mind about staying, while others said it was the club that got upset with new demands made by his side.

Messi made no immediate public statement. Laporta was going to address the media Friday.

Barcelona removed Messi from its squad list on the club’s website shortly after the announcement and posted a video on its Twitter accounts thanking the player.


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