Lionel Messi has left Barca after both parties failed to agree a new contract. The OFFICIAL STATEMENT reads “Despite having reached an agreement between Barça and Leo Messi and with the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, it will not be possible to formalize due to economic and structural obstacles (Spanish LaLiga regulations”. “As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.“FC Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life.”

Last month Messi agreed in principle to a five-year deal on reduced wages rather than a two-year extension initially discussed. It had been hoped the agreement would keep Barcelona within the boundaries of La Liga’s financial fair play regulations but that has proved impossible.Barcelona needed to move players out to renew Messi’s deal and they have not been able to find the solution. The club, whose total debt is about €1,173m, are constrained by the league’s salary cap. Messi has agreed to a 50% pay cut, dropping from about €45m basic, after tax, to closer to €20m.

Lionel Messi joined Barcelona aged 13 from Argentina’s Newell’s Old Boys in 2000.He has made 778 appearances for Barcelona, scoring a remarkable 672 goals which have helped to claim 10 league titles, four Champions Leagues and three Club World Cups among his haul of 35 trophies.He now leaves as a free agent.