On Thursday, Barcelona confirmed Lionel Messi would be officially leaving the club after 21 years. Here is how it happened, how he found out and reacted, and which club has already reportedly contacted his representatives.
It has come as a surprise to many, but Messi, the greatest goalscorer and player in the Blaugrana's history, has officially departed the club after more than two decades on its books.
On Thursday night, Barcelona released an official statement on their website confirming the news three hours after the first reports in Spain that the deal had fallen through surfaced online, revealing that it was, indeed, financially unviable for a new contract to be processed.
While Messi's last deal at the club expired in June, it was thought that he was set to re-sign and commit himself to club president Joan Laporta's project at the Camp Nou.
Earlier this week, it was suggested that Messi had agreed a new five-year contract that was set to be announced after LaLiga confirmed they would be receiving a cash injection from an investment fund called CVC.
It was thought that the percentage Barcelona would have received as part of that new partnership would make it easier for the club to register the Argentine, which was previously said to be impossible due to the league's new salary limits.
Ultimately, however, the Spanish giants decided that, along with Real Madrid, they would challenge LaLiga's decision to partner with the investment firm, reportedly because accepting that route meant they would have had to give up their hopes of getting a European Super League off the ground.
However, without the cash injection, Barca would not be able to register Messi's new deal with LaLiga.
How did Messi find out and how did he react?
The 34-year-old arrived back in the city of Barcelona on Wednesday to finalise a new deal with the club, reportedly under the impression that the contract would be confirmed and announced before Friday, which was when he was set to return to first-team training.
Some were even said to hope that he would play a role in Barca's pre-season Joan Gamper Trophy friendly against Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus on Sunday.
On Thursday, though, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner received confirmation from his dad, Jorge Messi, who also works as his agent, that it would not be possible for him to stay at his boyhood club under the current circumstances.
Sport has reported that Messi was devastated by the news, with the publication stating that he was "deeply distressed" when he learned that Barca would be making an official announcement regarding the failed deal.
Could he join PSG?
Football transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has claimed that Paris Saint-Germain were the first club to contact Messi's camp. This reportedly came as soon as news broke that he would not be able to sign a new contract at Barcelona.
He was heavily linked with the French giants in 2020 after he handed in a transfer request in Spain, but, according to Romano, rejected an approach from the Ligue 1 side a few months ago as he looked to extend his stay with Barca.
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