Lionel Messi bursts into tears during FC Barcelona’s farewell
MADRID – Struggling to control his emotions, Lionel Messi said in his farewell to Barcelona on Sunday that he was not ready to leave the club.
Messi started crying even before he started speaking during his farewell ceremony at the Camp Nou stadium and had to stop speaking to calm himself down several times.
“It’s very difficult for me after so many years, having been here all my life,” he said. “I was not prepared.”
Messi has said that unlike last year when he asked to leave, he intends to stay with Barcelona and has done everything possible to make it happen. He added that he was surprised to learn he could not stay due to the club’s debt and the Spanish league’s financial fair play settlement.
“The last few days I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to say today, but to be honest I couldn’t find anything. I was stuck, as I still am right now, ”Messi said. “I was convinced that we would stay with the club, which is our home.”
Messi’s family and some of his teammates were at Camp Nou for the emotional farewell. He was applauded several times by the public.
Messi called his unexpected departure from the club “the most difficult moment” of his career.
“There were a lot of difficult times, a lot of losses, but in the end you always came back to training and played again,” he said. “This is different. There is no turning back. This is the end and now a new story begins.
Messi has said he hopes to return to the club in a certain capacity one day and wished he could say goodbye to fans in a game with a capacity crowd chanting his name.
Messi has avoided speaking specifically about his future, saying he received offers from several clubs after news of his departure from the Catalan club was announced. Asked about Paris Saint-Germain, Messi admitted it was “a possibility”.
Barcelona announced on Thursday that they cannot keep their best player as they are unable to fit a new contract into the Spanish league’s financial fair play rules. The club’s salary cap has been drastically reduced due to its massive debt. President Joan Laporta blamed the club’s struggles on the coronavirus pandemic and in particular on the previous administration led by Josep Bartomeu.
Messi asked to leave at the end of the 2019-20 season but his request was refused by Bartomeu. The Argentina star had agreed to stay and made a deal with Barcelona on a new contract, but the club were unable to make it work due to his dire financial situation.
Messi spent nearly two decades with the Catalan club after arriving from Argentina as a teenager to play in their youth squads. He made his first-team debut at 17 in 2004, then played 17 seasons with the main team. He has helped the club win the Champions League four times, the Spanish League 10 times, the Copa del Rey seven times and the Spanish Super Cup eight times.
Messi leaves as Barcelona’s all-time top scorer with 672 goals. He made 778 appearances for the club, a record too. He is also the top scorer in the Spanish league with 474 goals in 520 matches.
He led the Spanish league in scoring in eight seasons and was the Champions League top scorer on six occasions. His 26 goals against Real Madrid are a record for “clasico” matches against Barcelona’s fiercest rivals.