As with any triumphant reign, Lionel Messi’s illustrious 21-year career at Barcelona looks to be over after the La Liga giants confirmed he would not be extending his contract, which expired at the end of last season.
This is not to say Messi didn’t want to, an agreement over the new contract had reportedly been agreed, but La Liga wage restrictions cited as “economic and structural obstacles” in Barca’s statement announcing Messi’s departure, prevented the Argentine from staying on.
The statement continued to confirm Messi wanted to remain a Barca player, revealing their deep “regret that the wishes of both the player and the Club cannot finally be fulfilled.”
As a result, the six-time Balon D’or winner is on the prowl for a new club for the first time in more than two decades, though he is likely to have an extraordinarily lengthy list of potential suitors.
Tributes have already flooded in for the forward from players and fans alike, with ex-Barcelona captain Carles Puyol the latest to send a message to Barca’s record goal-scorer.
The Spanish defender took to Instagram to upload a touching picture of Puyol handing Messi one of his half a dozen Balon D’or trophies, the most any player has ever won.
The snap was accompanied with a caption that read: “Thank you very much for everything, Leo. We can never thank you for everything you have given us. I wish you the best.”
Puyol spent 15 years in the Barca first team, a decade of which were spent playing alongside Messi, in which the pair won six La Liga titles together as well as two Copa Del Rey’s, five Supercopa’s, two UEFA Super Cups and four Champions Leagues.
Barcelona themselves echoed the sentiments of their former captain, signing off their statement with: “Barça would like to thank with all its heart the player’s contribution to the enhancement of the institution and wishes him the best in his personal and professional life.”
The question on everyone’s lips now centres around where Messi will play his football next season, with French giants Paris Saint-Germain tipped to be leading the race for his rather expensive signature.
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