Lionel Messi broke down in tears as he confirmed his departure from Barcelona after 21 years at the club in a touching press conference on Sunday. The Argentina international, 34, has been free since July 1, when his Camp Nou contract expired, although he verbally agreed to a new deal on a reduced salary only so the Catalan club could renew his contract.
But to everyone's surprise, FC Barcelona confirmed Thursday August 5 that Messi would not sign a new contract due to financial problems "and structural obstacles". Speaking at a press conference at Camp Nou, attended by all former first team players, including Xavi and Carles Puyol, he said he wanted to continue at Barcelona and did "everything what he could" to stay, but it was not possible.
"I don't know what to say here," he began. “The last few days I've been thinking, thinking a lot about what I can say, and the truth is, I can't think of anything. It's really difficult for me after so many years here. “I'm not ready for that and honestly last year with all the burofax silliness and everything, I knew what I wanted. But this year it is not the same. This year my family and I were convinced that we were going to stay here, that we were going to stay at home, that is what we wanted more than anything.
“We have always made it our home, we were at home and we thought we would stay here in Barcelona. The time we have spent here in the city has been amazing. But wow, today I have to say goodbye to all of this. I've been here for so many years, all my life, since I was 13. After 21 years I am leaving with my wife, with my three Catalan-Argentinian grandchildren and I cannot tell you all that we have lived in this city and I cannot say that in a few years we will not be back, because it it is our home and I have promised it to my children.
“I'm really grateful for everything, all my teammates, all my former teammates, everyone at the club, everyone who has been by my side. There are so many people, even some that I have only met a few times. I have so much respect. “So many great things have happened - also bad things - but it all helped me grow, helped me improve and made me who I am today. I gave everything for this club, for this jersey, from the first day of my arrival until the last.
“The truth is, I'm leaving. I'm so grateful for the care people showed me, I wish I could go a different way. I never imagined having to say goodbye because I never thought about it. “Mostly, I imagined it with people on the pitch, the last cheers, but we couldn't play in front of the fans last year because of the pandemic and it was hard not to hear their cheers. , not to have them nearby, so as not to hear them call out my name.
“And I'm leaving this club now without seeing the fans for over a year and a half. If I had imagined it, I would have imagined the Camp Nou full, being close to people and being able to say goodbye correctly. But it must be so. Messi arrived in Catalonia from Rosario at the age of 13 and enjoyed huge success at the club, winning 10 La Liga titles, four Champions League crowns and the Ballon d'Or six times.
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