The Argentina international has explained the reasons behind his Camp Nou departure in an emotional final press conference
Lionel Messi has confirmed that he offered to halve his wages in order to stay at Barcelona while branding reports that he asked for a 30 per cent wage increase as “a lie”.
Messi addressed the media at Camp Nou for the final time on Sunday, having been forced to cut short his 21-year career at Barca due to a breakdown in negotiations over a new long-term contract.
The Catalan giants have been frantically trying to reduce their wage bill since the end of the 2020-21 campaign to get back below La Liga’s official limit, but it was suggested that their club captain was demanding a more lucrative package to extend his stay.
What’s been said?
Messi has now clarified the situation by insisting that he agreed to reduce his earnings by 50 per cent, with Goal having revealed earlier this summer that he was all set to commit his future to the Blaugrana until 2026 .
However, that sacrifice was not enough, and the six-time Ballon d’Or winner defended his character in his last press conference as a Barcelona player.
“The report that I asked for 30% more is a lie. It’s a lie. I offered to reduce my contract by 50%, and then they didn’t ask me for anything else,” said Messi.
“As the president said, the club has got a big debt, they can’t do it, it’s not possible [to stay].
“To keep drawing it out would make it more complicated. I need to focus on my career and what I need to do from now on.
“I did everything I could to stay and it was not possible to stay.”
Does Messi have any regrets?
Messi won 10 La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues among a whole host of major honours during his time at Camp Nou while scoring 672 goals across all competitions, but isn’t completely satisfied with his trophy haul.
“I would still like to have won some more Champions Leagues, the semi-final vs Liverpool, the semi vs Chelsea with Pep,” the 34-year-old said when asked if he has any regrets.
“I have no regrets, always gave everything, but we had a generation when we could have won more Champions Leagues.”
Where will Messi play in 2021-22?
Messi has been linked with a whole host of other top clubs across Europe in recent months, having initially invited speculation over his future by handing in a transfer request last summer.
Manchester City, Inter and Juventus were all credited with an interest in Messi, who also left the door open to a possible move to MLS , but it now appears that he could be heading to France.
Messi admitted that joining PSG “is a possibility” before wrapping up his press conference , and also addressed a photo that has been doing the rounds on social media showing him with Angel Di Maria, Leandro Paredes and Marco Verratti while on holiday.
The Argentina international, who is reportedly set to sign a lucrative two-year deal at Parc des Princes, added on the image: “The pic with Paris Saint-Germain was a coincidence, completely.
“I was there with my friends, we decided to take a photo… they told me: ‘Come to Paris!’ but it was just a joke, we were on holiday.”