Barcelona Announce Lionel Messi Will Leave The Club Due To ‘Financial And Structural Obstacles’

After spending his entire professional career up to this point with the club, Lionel Messi is set to leave FC Barcelona. According to a release put out by the team on Thursday afternoon, Messi will not be able to sign a new contract with the Catalans due to financial regulations put in place by La Liga.

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 Liga 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.

Messi officially became a free agent earlier this year, with the overwhelming expectation being that the best player of all time would come to terms on a new deal with the club. However, according to a myriad of financial hurdles that, as the club was quick to note in its statement, are imposed by the league, getting Messi to fit into La Liga’s financial fair play is not possible, even though the two sides reportedly agreed to a five-year deal with a wage cut for Messi.

The big question is whether or not this actually ends up happening. Messi has, very publicly, come to the very brink of leaving Barcelona in the past, even requesting a move last summer that never came to fruition. The state of play here seems a bit different than that, if only because Barcelona is positioning this as a La Liga issue that prevents themselves and Messi from doing what they want to do.

There is already speculation that this is something of a leverage play by Barcelona to make La Liga change up its rules so Messi does not leave — a report last month indicated that other clubs in the league believe Messi is to valuable to La Liga as an entity and would want to assist in keeping him in Spain. But perhaps Occam’s razor applies here, and in actuality, Messi’s decorated career in Catalonia is actually over.

This raises the question of what would be next? Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are always going to be linked to Messi — the former would offer him the most money and the chance to play with his old pal Neymar, while the latter would give him the chance to reunite with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, although reports have already popped up indicating that City would rather continue its pursuit of Tottenham striker Harry Kane than try to make yet another move for Messi. Could another club pop up in Europe? Could the move to Major League Soccer that he’s said he’d like some day come to fruition a little earlier than anyone could have anticipated?

Who knows! Again, “Messi is going to leave Barcelona” is hardly a new thing, so it might be safe to be in “see it when you believe it” mode with this one. There is not a ton of time before the La Liga season begins — things kick off in eight days — so the safest assumption is that things are going to move very, very quickly if the inevitable end point here is Messi staying. But if that doesn’t happen, perhaps we will, indeed, see the single most shocking thing in world football: Lionel Messi wearing the shirt for a club that is not Barcelona.