A tearful Lionel Messi bids goodbye to his boyhood club, Barcelona, at a press conference.
Messi couldn’t hold back the tears 🥺 pic.twitter.com/gYmogGfo4L
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 8, 2021
He confirmed at the very press conference that his next move is not yet concrete but the sports world is rife with speculation. If reports are to be believed, Messi may be playing for Paris Saint-German next, his medical evaluation may already be scheduled.
‘Many beautiful things happened to me here, bad too, but all this helped me to grow and made the person that I am today,’ loosely translated his words to the press. ‘We have had very good moments, bad ones, too, but the affection of the people has been constant, I always felt it, the recognition, the love. I felt it towards them too, and the club, and will do all my life, I hope,’ he affirmed.
It is a sight not many thought they would see, a tearful Messi receiving a standing ovation at his leaving the club he has been a part of about 20 years.
After two decades at the club, he had made a call to leave ahead of the 2020-21 season last year. His relationship with the club president at that time—Josep Bartomeu—had gone sour. But when Joan Laporta replaced Bartomeu, Messi committed his future to Barcelona.
By July 1 his contract ended, making him a free agent.
“We had everything agreed, but at the last minute, it couldn’t happen. This year I wanted to stay and I couldn’t. Last year I didn’t want to stay, and I said it,” Messi said.
The 34-year-old is statistically the greatest player to have been a part of the club and the most lucrative, at that. Messi has scored 672 goals, a club record, during his time there, leading Barcelona to 10 La Liga titles. His previous contract with the club expired at the end of June, but ESPN reported last month the two sides had come to terms on a five-year extension, which included Messi accepting a sizable pay cut.
He has to leave as the change in management makes it difficult to forge a new contract. If reports are to be believed, the player was even happy to relinquish half of what he is paid to remain at the club.