Lionel Messi reduced to tears as Barcelona’s greatest ever player speaks for the first time since it was confirmed he is LEAVING the club… as he says LaLiga made it impossible for him to stay
- Lionel Messi held a press conference this morning at the Nou Camp
- The Argentine superstar addressed media for the first time since news broke
- Close friends and family were in attendance as he addresses Barcelona exit
A tearful Lionel Messi confirmed on Sunday he was leaving FC Barcelona after the club said it could no longer afford paying the Argentine’s high wages, adding he was in negotiations with French club Paris St Germain over a possible move.
French newspaper L’Equipe reported on Sunday that the Argentine will travel to the French capital either Sunday or Monday to undertake a medical and finalise his deal with the Qatar Sports Investment-owned club.
While Messi did not confirm he would definitely join the Parisians, he said his plans were to carry on playing as long as possible.
Lionel Messi could not hold back the tears as he addressed his Barcelona departure on Sunday
Messi looked devastated as he spoke to the media and his team-mates at the Nou Camp
‘As long as I go on being competitive and as long as my body responds (I’ll carry on playing),’ he told a news conference.
‘As long as I can, I will carry on competing.’
‘I tried to behave with humility and respect and I hope that is what remains of me when I leave the club,’ said an emotional Messi as hundreds of fans, many wearing his No. 10 jersey, massed outside Barca’s Camp Nou stadium to bid farewell to the player they called Messiah.
The 34-year-old, who has been at the club for 21 years, becoming its all-time goalscorer with 682, broke down in tears before giving a speech and was greeted by a lengthy standing ovation from the media, current and former team mates and coaches in attendance.
The Argentine said he did everything he could to stay but was ultimately unsuccessful
Messi struggled to get his words out as he came to terms with the fact he was leaving the club
Messi said that he believed he would be staying at the club, with a five-year deal agreed on a 50% pay-cut, only for a surprise U-turn to happen late last week.
‘Honestly, when the elections happened (in March), I spoke with (club president Joan) Laporta, we had dinner and after that I was convinced I would be staying,’ he said.
‘My contract was never the issue … What I know is that I did everything I could. The club say it could not happen because of La Liga. I can guarantee you that I did everything I could to stay. Last year I didn’t want to and I said that, but this year it was different.’
All 35 trophies he won during his time at the club were laid out for what the club described would be a private photo session after the news conference.
Messi’s team-mates looked dejected as they watched their star man bid his farewell
Messi is consoled by Jordi Alba and Antoine Griezmann after the press conference
Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman greets Messiafter watching him say his piece
Scroll down to see how it all unfolded with Sportsmail’s live runner…
Respect from all corners as Messi wraps up his press conference and proceeds to take pictures with his 35 trophies.
Messi reaffirms that he didn’t want any more money and he did everything to stay.
“It was like my blood ran cold, I was really sad, it was really difficult right up to now. I’m still trying to process it all.
“When I got home I will still feel bad, it will be even worse.”
‘We met up in Ibiza but it was all just a joke’
‘Some friends on holiday. That’s it.’
Messi says he and his family are still coming to terms with everything but they must move on.
Messi says he’d be happy to do some sort of farewell game but stresses that the moment to say goodbye is now.
“The time when I made my debut, that was my dream come true and everything that came later was amazing. I will always remember that moment where everything started.”
Messi: “A lot of things have gone through my head. I’ve still not come to terms with the reality of leaving this club now and changing my life.
“We need to accept it and move forward.”
Messi says France is an option but he’s had a lot of calls and he’s talking about a lot of things.
Messi confirms that everything was in place for him to stay but then LaLiga rules suddenly changed everything.
He says he did everything he could because he wanted to stay.
He admits he didn’t want to stay last year but this year he did.
A prolonged round of applause from journalists and his Barcelona team-mates as Messi continues to sob on stage.
Hard to watch
Messi says he is grateful to everyone at the club but he never imagined leaving this way.
He looks devastated.
He is especially upset that he hasn’t been able to play in front of fans at the Nou Camp for the last 1 months.
He says he and his family had no intentions to leave and had been planing their future in Barcelona.
The Barcelona legend is struggling to hold himself together as he takes the stage.
His wife gives him a handkerchief.
He says he has been thinking about what to say but he can’t think of anything.
On Thursday, Barcelona said Messi, a free agent, would not stay at the club.
They blamed “financial and structural obstacles” for the player leaving after 21 years.
On Friday, Barca president Joan Laporta said keeping Messi could have put the club at risk for 50 years.
Spain’s sports newspapers on Saturday focused heavily on Barcelona president Joan Laporta’s remarkable 90-minute press conference to explain the reasons behind Lionel Messi’s shock departure from the club, in which he was quick to point the blame elsewhere.
Ronald Koeman says it is ‘still hard to understand’ that Lionel Messi has left Barcelona, with the baffled Dutchman taking to Twitter to wish the Argentine well following his shock departure.
The Spanish club sent shockwaves through world football when they announced on Thursday that Messi would not re-sign for the club, with his contract having expired at the start of last month.
Sergio Aguero has allayed any fears among Barcelona fans that he will be leaving the club just over two months after joining following the bombshell news of Lionel Messi’s exit.
Messi’s departure has rocked crisis club Barcelona – who are in the midst of a financial mess – even further with the club failing to extend his illustrious stay with his contract having expired at the start of last month.
Lionel Messi hosted a farewell dinner on Saturday night as he prepares to leave Barcelona in the coming days.
Close friends and family were invited to the meal at Messi’s house, as he says his goodbyes following the announcement earlier this week that he would not be signing a new contract at the Nou Camp.
And welcome to Sportsmail’s live coverage of Lionel Messi’s first press conference since the announcement that he would be leaving Barcelona.
The Argentine is due to speak at 11am and we’ll have all the build up.
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