Barcelona said Lionel Messi to leave the club after scoring 672 goals due to “financial and structural obstacles”.
Messi’s contract with the club expired on July 1, and he has been a free agent ever since. Barcelona, however, prefered to depend on cheaper players due to the financial crisis.
The athlete and the club expressed deep regret over the development.
La Liga was blamed for failing to finalize an agreement with the player, who made huge success for the club over the past 21 years.
He had agreed to stay with the Catalan side until 2026 – but La Liga said the club must reduce wages before he and any new players can be registered.
“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 La Liga regulations],” the club said.
“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.”
Messi is Barcelona’s record scorer with 672 goals and has won 10 La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and seven Copa del Reys, as well as claiming the Ballon d’Or on a record six occasions.
Keeping Messi at the Nou Camp had been chairman Joan Laporta’s top priority this summer.
The Argentine arguably now becomes the most in-demand player in world football.
Messi has long been linked with a move to either Paris St-Germain or Manchester City, where he would be reunited with his former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola.
America’s Major League Soccer, which Messi has previously considered experiencing, is another option.