Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest footballer on the planet and in the sport's long history, became a free agent earlier this summer amid reports Spanish giants Barcelona could not register the living legend because of the club's massive debts and La Liga's strict financial regulations as they pertain to salary structures.
On Thursday, Barcelona confirmed Messi won't be returning to the club:
Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations)," Barca said in the prepared statement.
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.
Messi allegedly attempted to leave Barcelona last summer and wished to join current reigning Premier League champions Manchester City at that time. City, meanwhile, have been heavily linked with wantaway Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane and Aston Villa star midfielder Jack Grealish in transfer rumors but almost certainly would nuke those plans, if possible, to sign Messi.
Jack Grealish leaving Manchester City's training ground after finalising the deal pic.twitter.com/UfMr8N3jSg— Football Daily (@footballdaily) August 5, 2021
Part of Messi's unwritten agreement to remain with Barcelona reportedly included the 34-year-old spending time with Major League Soccer side Inter Miami at some point after next year's World Cup. It's unclear if a different team such as City would offer him similar terms.