VIDEO. Football: Lionel Messi in tears bids farewell to Barcelona and moves closer to PSG
The six-fold Golden Ball leaves Barça, his club forever. And discusses his future, perhaps at Paris Saint-Germain.
In tears, Argentinian star Lionel Messi bade farewell to FC Barcelona, where he spent more than 20 years, on Sunday, and recognized that joining PSG was a « possibility » even if nothing was signed.
Called three days after the announcement of his departure from Barça, this first speech by the Argentine striker at Camp Nou, the stadium where he built his legend, was eagerly awaited on the football planet. Dressed in a dark suit, the « Pulga » (the Flea in Spanish), burst into tears before even being able to utter a word, in front of many players, from the current squad like Jordi Alba, Gerard Piqué, Antoine Griezmann or Ansu Fati, but also passed as Xavi or Carles Puyol.
« It’s very difficult for me, after these so many years, after a whole life spent here, » said the six-time Golden Ball, for whom the inability to extend at Barça due to the club’s finances was a « cold shower ». « I had never imagined my farewells because the truth is that I did not think of it. I would have liked to say my farewells in another way (…) with the world, on the ground », has t -he adds. But now, the only question that matters is where « Leo » will pursue his gigantic career.
PSG « a possibility »
All roads seem to lead to the Parc des Princes for Messi, who arrived at 13 in Barcelona where he became one of the best players in history. « It’s a possibility » but « I haven’t signed anything with anyone, » the player said, acknowledging having received « many calls » from interested clubs.
The newspaper The team evokes Sunday an arrival in Paris of the Argentinian in the evening and speaks of a « record contract » of three years, « with an annual net salary of 40 million euros ».
Messi could sign for two seasons, plus an optional one. Getting their hands on Messi would be a huge blow for PSG, owned by the Qataris who have so far failed to take the Parisian club to the top of the Champions League despite all the superstars bought since their arrival. But also for Ligue 1 in a context of economic crisis and conflict over the amount of TV rights.
In the Parisian locker room, Messi would arrive, him, on familiar ground, alongside his former Barcelona friend Neymar, whom he recently saw during their vacation in Ibiza and who has never hidden his desire to replay with « Leo » , or his compatriot Angel Di Maria with whom he has just won the Copa America. He also knows well the coach Mauricio Pochettino, Argentinian like him.
Messi did « everything possible »
For Barça with whom he won 35 trophies, including four Champions Leagues, and by extension for the Spanish league, the departure of the Argentine is a very hard blow.
Returned to Barça president by promising that he would keep the « Pulga » (the Chip), Joan Laporta explained on Friday that he was unable to extend his star due to the club’s disastrous financial situation and the salary cap rules of La Liga then that an agreement had nevertheless been found.
« We did not want to further endanger the institution, » said Laporta, assuring that he « did what was best for the interests » of the club which must suffer an abysmal loss of 487 million euros for last season. Messi for his part assured to have « done all that was possible » on the financial level so that his contract can be extended, accepting « a reduction of 50% » and assured that the club had « not asked him for more » .
« Last year, I did not want to stay, and I had assumed it too », recalled the Argentinian star who, in August 2020, had indicated his desire to leave the club by sending him a letter which remained famous because he led to the resignation of ex-president Josep Maria Bartomeu a few months later.
In Barcelona, life without Messi will be hard to imagine for the hundreds of supporters gathered in front of Camp Nou. « I grew up with Messi and now I don’t know what Barça is without him, » Eric Nava, 18, who wanted to be there « to say goodbye » told AFP.