At 12 p.m. on August 8, 2021, in Barcelona, Lionel Messi held a press conference at the Camp Nou to confirm his departure from the club after a tenure of 21 years
It was obviously an emotional occasion for the superstar as he began the conference already in tears. However, he remained on the stage and answered questions from the Spanish press for 30 minutes.
Throughout, he was adamant that this was end of his current Barcelona playing career, but what was surprising was the tone. “The truth is, we’re leaving. I never imagined having to say goodbye,” said Messi, only one year after asking for his release from the club. When asked about this, he was concise: “Last year I wanted to leave and said it, this year I wanted to stay.”
Besides for this, however, things were less clear. When asked why he was leaving now, he would only say “they (FC Barcelona) couldn’t do it because of La Liga. We did everything we could because we wanted to stay,” with no further explanation.
As for the future, the speculation is that Messi will be relocating to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in France’s Ligue 1. With Manchester City of the Premier League already spending 100 million pounds on Jack Grealish, PSG are the only other European powerhouse who can afford his wages – plus, Messi’s father and agent has been reportedly in talks with them.
Messi, as expected, while standing on a stage directly in front of a massive FC Barcelona logo, refused to say anything with certainty. All he would say is “they are a possibility,” but answering a later question, he talked about playing Barcelona again in the future. This is a far cry from when Arsene Wenger departed as Arsenal manager, as he instantly ruled out managing another team in Europe as they could get in a position to play his old club.
Earlier reports cited “financial obstacles” as the reason for Messi’s departure, suggesting that FC Barcelona’s $1.1 billion debt is starting to have real world consequences. When asked if he was angry at La Liga for their decision, Messi specified that it was a debt issue and the league had to step in to ensure it wouldn’t get worse; he even said he was willing to take a 50 percent pay cut to remain at the club.
The press conference ended on a wistful note as Messi detailed his regret at not winning another Champions League with FC Barcelona. “I would have liked to have tried to win another Champions League,” he said, “we got knocked out in the semi-final against Liverpool, which stopped us getting to another final.” The game he’s referencing is from the 2018/19 season, which is conspicuous as it was the historic 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in August the following season that triggered his decision to leave last summer.