Lionel Messi said goodbye to FC Barcelona on Sunday after 21 years with one of the greatest soccer clubs in the world, and the Argentine star already reportedly has his next move lined up.
His deal with the club will reportedly last two years and will have an option for a third. Messi will join Brazilian star Neymar and French phenom Kylian Mbappe to form one of the deadliest attacks in Europe. PSG also brought in Spanish star defender Sergio Ramos and Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma earlier this summer.
PSG is still searching for its first-ever Champions League title. The club lost in the final and was eliminated during the semifinals twice over the past several years. PSG also lost the Ligue 1 title to Lille in 2020-21, but they won the Coupe de France.
Barcelona announced Thursday that Messi would be leaving the club, shocking fans, and clubs around the world. Messi made it clear that he was “disappointed” in the way things have played out, but he has accepted the reality of his departure from a club and city he has called home for 21 years.
“A lot of things have passed through my head, and at the same time … I can’t think of what to say,” a tearful Messi told reporters on Sunday. “I haven’t come to terms with the reality of leaving this club and changing my life completely.”
Lionel Messi cries at the start of a press conference at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021. FC Barcelona had previously announced the negotiations with Lionel Messi had ended and that Messi would be leaving the club. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort) (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
During the press conference, Messi said that he has always been “honest” about his intentions in the process: He wanted to stay, but the league rules have made it impossible as Barcelona has spent too much money to be able to sign Messi.
The only way for Messi to continue would likely have been for the player to take a significant pay cut so that the club could afford his wages. As it stands, Barcelona’s immense debt of over 1 billion euros — the result of recent attempts to overhaul the squad following the coronavirus pandemic and failures both in La Liga and the Champions League — makes it impossible for Messi to stay.
Messi said he offered to take a 50% pay cut, which would have reduced his salary from roughly $1.4 million a week to only $700,000 a week – a wage that would still dwarf that of almost any other player.
Messi has been a member of the first team since making his debut as a teenager in 2004.
“It will be a difficult change, but we will accept it and move forward,” Messi said.
Fox News’ Peter Aitken contributed to this report.