Argentine football star Lionel Messi said in his farewell speech on Sunday (August 8) that he was not prepared to leave Barcelona, which is his “home”. Messi even broke down even before he started speaking at his farewell ceremony at the Camp Nou Stadium.
“This is very hard for me after so many years, after being here my entire life,” Messi said. The football legend said that unlike last year when he was asked to leave, he had his mind set on staying with Barcelona and did everything possible to make it happen. He added that he was surprised to hear he would not be able to stay because of the club’s debt and the Spanish league’s financial fair play regulations.
“In these last few days, I was thinking about what I would say today, but to be honest, I couldn’t come up with anything. I was blocked, like I still am right now,” Messi said. “I was convinced that I would remain with the club, which is my home,” he added.
Messi’s family and some of his teammates were at the Camp Nou for the emotional farewell. The controversial footballer called his unexpected departure from the club the most difficult moment of his career. “There were many tough moments, many losses, but in the end, you always went back to training and to playing again,” he said with emotion.
“This is different. There is no going back. This is the end and now a new story begins,” Messi said. He also said that he hopes to return to the club ‘in some capacity’ one day. He also wished that he could have said goodbye to fans in a match with the crowd chanting his name.
Messi avoided speaking about his future, saying he has received offers from several clubs, after the announcement that he would leave the Catalan club. When asked about Paris Saint-Germain, Messi admitted it was a possibility that he would join the club. Messi will play beside his former Barca teammate, the Brazilian star Neymar Jr., if he joins PSG.
Barcelona announced Thursday it could not keep its greatest player because it was not able to fit a new contract within the LaLiga’s financial fair-play regulations. The club’s salary cap has been significantly slashed because of its huge debt. Joan Laporta, the President of Barcelona, blamed the club’s struggles due to COVID-19, and particularly the previous administration led by Josep Bartomeu for this debt.
Messi asked to leave at the end of the 2019-20 season, but his request was denied by Bartomeu. The Argentina star had agreed to stay and had reached an agreement with Barcelona on a new contract, but the club was not able to make it work any longer because of its dire financial situation. Messi spent nearly two decades with the Catalan club after arriving from Argentina as a teenager to play in its youth squad.
Messi, who played the first match for Barcelona at 17 in 2004, went on to play 17 seasons with the club. Barcelona won four Champions League title, 10 LaLiga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles and eight Spanish Super Cup titles, with Messi.
Messi leaves Barcelona as the club’s all-time leading goal scorer with 672 goals. He played in a record 778 matches with the club, and is LaLiga’s top goal scorer, with 474 goals in 520 matches. His 26 goals against Real Madrid are a record for the El-Clasico matches.
(With inputs from Agencies)