An emotional Lionel Messi has bid his farewell to the fans and officials of Barcelona, saying that he never wanted to leave the Catalan Giants.
Messi was in tears as he received a standing ovation in his final Barcelona press conference to announce the end of his 21 years with the club.
Barcelona confirmed the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s departure on Thursday night, the same day he returned to Catalonia following his post-Copa America holiday.
Speaking at the farewell, the Argentine said he had travelled to Barcelona hoping to continue at the club after agreeing a 50% payout. But La Liga rules did not make the contract work.
“This year, my family and I were convinced we were going to stay at home, that’s what we all wanted more than anything,” said Messi.
“We’d always made this our own, we were at home. We thought we would be staying here in Barcelona. But today, we have to say goodbye to all of this.
“I did everything possible and the club, Laporta, they couldn’t do it because of La Liga.
“I’ve heard things said about me, that I didn’t want to continue, but on my life, we did everything we could because I wanted to stay.
“Last year, I didn’t want to stay and I said it; this year, I wanted to stay and we couldn’t.”
French giants, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) have been reported to have signed Messi on a two-year deal worth £25m a year after tax with the option of a further year.
But the 34-year-old said while there have been discussions with PSG, the deal is all but concluded.
Messi said: “That is one possibility, to reach those heights.
“I’ve got nothing confirmed with anybody. I had a lot of calls, a lot of interested clubs. At the moment, nothing is closed, but we are talking about a lot of things.”