“Messi shall not be staying”.
The above official statement, released by Barcelona about the most important player in the club’s history and one of the greatest footballer ever has put the football world in pandemonium since Thursday night.
The 34-year-old was set to sign a new deal to extend his over two decades stay at the Nou Camp, but that has failed to go through due to the Spanish league’s Financial Fair Play rules.
Barely a year ago, Messi wanted to exercise a clause in his contract to leave on a free transfer, but Barca said a 700m euros (£624m) fee had to be paid and it almost dragged into a court case.
Now, one of the world’s most valuable players has to leave for free.
Former Barca boss Pep Guardiola had always wanted the diminutive magician at Manchester City.
But with City having signed Jack Grealish for a record £100m, and being linked with another hefty move for Tottenham striker Harry Kane, it is unlikely they still have the financial viability to sign Messi.
According to Spanish Sports Journalist Guillem Balagué: “It’s not like getting someone who will earn, say, 50m euros. Whatever it is, you have to double it. But you also have to pay a signing-on fee, that could be 50-60-70m. It’s a signing from another club almost.
“So from that point of view I don’t think City have got the finances now, and we all suspect it has to be Paris St-Germain next.”