Lionel Messi, the world’s best soccer player, is leaving FC Barcelona, his only club.
Lionel Messi, a soccer star who has spent his entire professional career with FC Barcelona, will not return to the historic La Liga club, the team said Thursday.
“Despite the fact that the club and player have reached an agreement and have expressed their clear desire to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen due to financial and structural constraints,” the club stated in a short statement.
Messi, 34, has been a member of FC Barcelona for 17 seasons, winning ten La Liga championships. He has won the men’s Ballon d’Or six times, the accolade given to the world’s best soccer player.
Despite his advanced years, Messi continues to be a very prolific player in one of the world’s most top leagues, scoring 30 goals in 30 appearances this past season.
And with one of the game’s all-time greats suddenly on the market, supporters of big clubs such as Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain will undoubtedly push their clubs to spend as much money as possible to get the icon’s services.
In May, Messi was named the second best-paid athlete in 2020-21 by Forbes magazine, earning an estimated $130 million in the preceding 12 months.
Messi’s salary at Barça, along with lucrative endorsement agreements with high-profile companies such as Adidas and Ginny Hilfiger, Tommy Hilfiger’s sister, places him among the wealthiest sportsmen.
At $180 million, he was second only to UFC athlete and Proper No. Twelve founder Conor McGregor.
Almost the only blemish on Messi’s record is his relative lack of international success while representing Argentina.
Even yet, that box was ticked this summer when the Sky Blue and Whites won the Copa America, South America’s title, with a 1-0 win against Brazil on July 10.