A tearful Lionel Messi has paid an emotional farewell to Barcelona after a glorious trophy-laden spell at Camp Nou.
An emotional Lionel Messi admitted he didn’t want to leave ‘home’ as he bid farewell to Barcelona at a press conference.
Despite his previous deal expiring in June, Messi wished to stay in Catalonia. Last month, he agreed on a new five-year contract that included a 50% pay cut. Barcelona were confident the agreement was within La Liga’s salary cap rules, especially if some players moved on or accepted lowering their salaries. In the end, though, it wasn’t possible.
The club board informed Messi’s camp that a deal could not be done, and Joan Laporta confirmed the news last week.
Now Messi has spoken for the first time since the news broke out as he fought back his tears while speaking to the world.
“This is really difficult for me after so many years, having been here for all my life. I am not ready for this,” said Messi in the press conference on Sunday.
“These recent days I’ve been thinking, giving a lot of thought to what I can say. And the truth is that I can’t think of anything. This is really difficult for me after so many years.
“I’ve been here my entire life. I’m not ready for this. And last year with all the nonsense, I was convinced of what I wanted to say, but this year it is not the same.
“This year my family and I were convinced we were going to stay here. That is what we all wanted more than anything. We were at home, and we thought we’d be staying here in Barcelona, the time we’ve hard here and with the city and [in terms of the] football has been amazing.
“But today, I have to say goodbye to all of this.”
Lionel Messi in tears as he bids farewell to Barcelona… 🔴🔵 pic.twitter.com/8NqhBmEeID
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) August 8, 2021
‘I hope I can come back and be part of this club again’
“I’ve been here since I was 13. After 21 years I am leaving with my wife and three little Catalan-Argentine kids, and I can’t tell you everything. I can tell you in a few years we want to come back because this is my home.
“I am just really grateful to my teammates and former teammates, everyone that has been by my side. There are so many people. For this club, I have so much respect. So many beautiful things have happened. Also some bad things, but all this helped me to grow and improve and make me the person I am today.”
Messi added: “I gave everything for this shirt from the first day until the very last. The truth is that I am leaving. I would love to be able to go in a different way. I never imagined it this way. I didn’t think I would have to say goodbye.
“I imagined it with the team on the pitch, the last cheers. We have been playing without fans and it has been difficult not to hear them. And now I have to leave without seeing the fans for a year and a half.
“If I had imagined it, it would have been with all the fans.
“I hope I can come back and be part of this club again in any way and help it become the best in the world.”
Messi gets a standing ovation at his press conference 👏
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 8, 2021