Lionel Messi’s two-decade stay at FC Barcelona is over after “financial and structural obstacles” prevented him from signing a new deal, the LaLiga club announced.
Barcelona insists both they and Messi were willing to extend his stay, but claim LaLiga regulations have made that impossible.
A statement on the Catalan giants’ official website said: “In spite of FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi has reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen.
”This is because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations).
“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona.”
The statement continued: “Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.
“FC Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandizement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life.”
Messi had headed to the Nou Camp from his native Argentina, where he had learned his football with Newell’s Old Boys, as a 13-year-old in 2000.
He progressed swiftly through the club’s junior ranks before making his senior debut as a late substitute against Espanyol at the age of 17 in October 2004.
His contribution to the club since has been stellar, with his 778 appearances yielding a staggering 672 goals.
They have helped him to claim 10 league titles, four UEFA Champions League crowns and three FIFA Club World Cups among his haul of 35 trophies.
Messi had told Barca last summer he wanted to leave with his camp believing he was able to do so on a free transfer.
But he remained on board when it emerged he was in fact subject to a 700 million euros (828 million dollars) buy-out clause during the final year of his existing deal.