An emotional Lionel Messi fought back tears when he confirmed his exit from Barcelona at a press conference on Sunday.
The 34-year-old Argentinian superstar, six times a Ballon d’Or winner, has been out of contract since the end of June and Barca say they cannot afford to keep him, with Messi admitting that a move to Paris Saint-Germain is a “possibility”.
“This year, my family and I were convinced we were going to stay here, at home — this is what we wanted more than anything,” said a suited Messi as he struggled to contain his emotions.
“I have still not come to terms with the reality of leaving this club now, changing my life. I love this club.
Last year he sought to engineer a release from his contract in frustration at some poor showings in Europe by the club where he has won four Champions Leagues but ended up staying.
Last year, he explained, “I was convinced I knew what I wanted, but this year is not the same”, stressing his preference was to prolong his stay rather than contemplate what now seems a likely reunion with former clubmate Neymar at PSG — ostensibly the only club that can afford him with Manchester City having distanced themselves.
He hotly denied asking for more money but had, on the contrary, accepted a 50 per cent salary cut.
“I would’ve liked to have won another Champions League,” he added while stressing that “I don’t regret anything, I tried to give my best and I’m ending my career here with a good number of titles”.