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CONFIRMED: Messi leaves Barcelona

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The Argentina star will leave the Catalan club after 21 years after negotiations over a new deal fell apart on Thursday, Lionel Messi will not sign a new contract at Barcelona, the club has confirmed.

The Argentine star’s latest deal expired this summer but he was expected to commit to a new contract ahead of the new season.

Messi held talks with the club on Thursday and although both parties hoped to reach an agreement that would see Messi remain at Camp Nou, Goal understands there were discrepancies that put the deal at risk of collapsing .

A statement on the club’s website read: “Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations).

“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. 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 aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life.”

Messi had agreed to sign a new five-year contract with the Spanish giants.

The 34-year-old was set to accept a deal that would see his weekly wage reduced by 50 per cent.

But the club’s financial situation made it impossible for them to register him for the new season without drastically reducing their wage bills.

The attacker will have his pick of teams to join ahead of the new season, but it remains to be seen which contenders can afford to land him.

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are said to be eager to lure him and are regarded as two of the few teams who could match his salary demands.

Messi has also expressed a desire to move back to his boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys to finish his career.

Messi moved to Camp Nou at the age of 13 and progressed through the youth system to make his debut in 2003 when he was just 16.

He has blossomed into arguably the greatest to ever play the game, claiming 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns among a plethora of other trophies.

Messi recently won a major trophy with Argentina for the first time, helping them to Copa America success this year.

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