Messi to break silence after shocking Barcelona exit thumbnail

Messi to break silence after shocking Barcelona exit

Lionel Messi will
break his silence over his future on Sunday, three days after
financially-strapped Barcelona announced they were unable to keep the superstar.

The Spanish giants said that the 34-year-old will hold a
press conference at the Camp Nou at noon (1000 GMT), without specifying the
nature of the briefing.

It will be his first public comments since Barcelona
announced Thursday that Messi, the club’s all-time top scorer and appearance
maker, would be leaving after 21 years.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said on Friday he was not
prepared “to put the club at risk” by renewing Messi’s contract, as
the club face up to huge financial problems ahead of the start of La Liga on
August 15.

Laporta said Barcelona were no longer negotiating with Messi
and the Argentine forward was considering other offers.

PSG, who bought Neymar from Barcelona for a world-record 222
million euros ($264 million) in 2017, appear favourites to sign Messi according
to reports in France.

Significantly, Nasser al-Khelaifi, the president of the
Qatar-owned club, and sporting director Leonardo both missed the team’s 2-1 win
at Troyes in their Ligue 1 season-opener on Saturday night.

“There have been lots of rumours. Lots of things are
being said,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino.

“I just hope we will be strong enough to try to win
every competition we are involved in.”

Sports daily L’Equipe indicated Messi is to receive a three-year
“record contract” with “a net annual wage of 40 million
euros” — but it appears nothing has been signed.

Funded by a sovereign wealth fund from gas-rich Qatar, PSG
is seen as one of the few clubs in the world with deep enough pockets to make a
bid for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Messi was pictured earlier this month on holiday with
Neymar, plus Argentina teammates Angel di Maria and Leandro Paredes and fellow
PSG star Marco Verrati.

‘Hard to understand’

The Barcelona captain has been a free agent since July 1
when his contract expired.

He originally had reached agreement with Barcelona to sign a
five-year contract worth 50 percent less per year.

But La Liga’s financial fair play rules, which are expected
to reduce the amount Barca can spend on salaries this season by some 200
million euros ($235 million), led Laporta to conclude they were unable to
complete the deal.

“We could not accommodate Messi’s contract,” said
Laporta, who was re-elected as club president in March and who said Friday he
would not “mortgage” the club for anybody.

“The situation we have inherited is abominable and the
sports salary bill represents 110 per cent of the club’s income.

“La Liga’s rules set limitations and we have no margin.
We have known the situation since we arrived but the numbers we have seen are
even worse than we thought.”

Barcelona have total debts of almost 1.2 billion euros, with
more than half of that needing to be repaid in the short term.

Many in Catalonia are struggling to accept the departure of
the 34-year-old who has been with the club since he signed a contract on a
napkin at the age of 13.

“Still hard to understand that you will not play for
@FCBarcelona anymore,” tweeted coach Ronald Koeman, the man whose goal won
Barca their first European Cup in 1992.

“Thanks for everything you have done for our club Leo.
I really enjoyed the full season we worked together. I am impressed with your
work ethic and desire to win.

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