Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi broke down in tears on Sunday (August 8) during a news conference following his surprise departure from FC Barcelona after the club said it could no longer afford paying its Argentine talisman’s high wages without jeopardising its future.
“I tried to behave with humility and respect and I hope that is what remains of me when I leave the club,” Messi told the news conference as hundreds of fans, many wearing his No. 10 jersey, massed outside Barca’s Camp Nou stadium to bid farewell to the player they called Messiah.
Messi did not say what his immediate plans were, but French newspaper L’Equipe reported on Friday (August 6) that he was set to join Paris St Germain after its manager Mauricio Pochettino told reporters that Messi was an “option.”
Barcelona said on Thursday (August 5) that the 34-year-old will leave the club, despite both parties having reached an agreement over a new contract, citing economic and structural obstacles to the renewal of the deal.
Messi, who joined Barca’s youth set-up aged 13, is the club’s all-time top scorer and appearance maker with 672 goals in 778 games in all competitions.
His last contract, signed in 2017, was the most lucrative in world sport according to a January report in newspaper El Mundo. Forbes has listed him as the athlete with the world’s second-highest earnings in 2021, at $130 million.