World footballing legend Lionel Messi will not return to FC Barcelona, the team announced Thursday in a stunning turn of events.
The team said it could not afford a previously agreed upon deal due to “economic and structural obstacles.”
From the archives (January 2021): Lionel Messi’s current contract with Barcelona is worth up to 555 million euros: report
Also (August 2020): FC Barcelona and La Liga signal unwillingness to allow Lionel Messi to walk away
And (September 2021): Lionel Messi says he’ll stay in Barcelona for another year, and fans exhale in relief
FC Barcelona in a statement said, “Despite having reached an agreement between FC Barcelona and Leo Messi and with the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, it cannot be formalized due to economic and structural obstacles (Spanish LaLiga 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.”
With the club facing a financial crisis, the 34-year-old last month agreed to a 50% pay cut from the $594 million he made on his last deal.
Messi has been with the club since he moved from his native Rosario, Argentina, to the Catalan club’s famed youth academy, La Masia, at 13.
In his 17 years with the first team at FC Barcelona, Messi won 10 La Liga titles, six Ballon d’Or awards, and was named to the UEFA team of the year 11 times.