Lionel Messi said a tearful goodbye to Barcelona on Sunday in a pretty heartbreaking press conference at the Camp Nou where he made it crystal clear that he did not want to leave the club.
The Argentine was in tears from the moment he first appeared, as were most of the audience which included a lot of current and former players, but did manage to collect his thoughts enough to offer some insight into what happened to facilitate his departure.
“I don’t know what to stay. These recent days I’ve been thinking about what I can say. The truth is that I can’t think of anything,” he started off by saying. “This is really difficult for me after so many years. I’ve been here all my life. I’m not ready for this and honestly last year with all the nonsense with the burofax and everything I was convinced I knew what to say but this year is not the same.”
Messi went on to insist that he and his family had been convinced he would be staying on at Barcelona after agreeing a new contract with the Catalan giants.
“This year my family and I were convinced we would stay here. This is what we all wanted more than anything. We’ve made this our home. We thought we’d be staying here. The times we’ve had here have been amazing but today I have to say goodbye to all of this.
“I’ve been here since I was 13. after 21 years I’m leaving with my wife, with my three little Catalan-Argentine kids. I’m just really grateful for everything to all my teammates, my former teammates, everyone at the club, who has been by my side. all the people, there are so mamy people. I thank everyone for the love I’ve had to live so many experiences, so many beautiful things that have happened.”
The talk then turned to why this was happening after it had seemed almost certain that Messi would be renewing with Barcelona.
“It’s how Laporta explained it. At the last minute, with everything with the league, it couldn’t happen. What’s clear is that I did everything possible,” he said. “They couldn’t do it because of La Liga. We did everything we could because I wanted to stay, last year I didn’t, but this year I did and I couldn’t.
“I offered to reduce my contract by 50% and they asked for nothing else. The news of me asking 30% more is a lie. A lot of what people are saying are not true. We did everything we could and it wasn’t possible.”
The 34-year-old went on to admit that saying goodbye was undoubtedly the most difficult moment of his career and addressed those rumors that he’s about to sign for Paris Saint-Germain.
“PSG is a possibility, but sincerely as of today there is nothing agreed with anyone. When the statement came out, I had many calls, various clubs were interested,” he said. “But I have nothing closed yet. But we are talking.”
Messi was also asked about what Barcelona would be like without him and had some fond words for the current squad.
“Barca are biggest club in the world, a marvellous squad. Players come and go, it’s true, as Laporta said the club is bigger than any individual,” he said. “The fans will get used to it, as they always do. They have very good players, and things will work out in the end.”
The GOAT will now, sadly, continue his career away from the Camp Nou but a return at some point will surely happen.
Messi said he’d “do anything” for Barca fans and also promised: “I have no doubt that after some years away we will return as this is our home, I have promised that to my kids too.”