An emotional Lionel Messi said joining Paris St-Germain was “a possibility, but nothing is agreed” as he confirmed his exit from Barcelona.
Messi is ending his 21-year association with Barca, who cannot afford to honour the new contract they agreed with him because of La Liga’s salary limit.
The record six-time Ballon d’Or winner, 34, is now a free agent.
“My family and I were convinced we were going to stay here, at home,” he said during a news conference on Sunday.
“This is the end with this club and now a new story will begin,” added the Argentina forward. “Yes, it’s one of the most difficult moments for me.
“I don’t want to leave this club – it’s a club I love and this is a moment I didn’t expect. Last year I wanted to leave, this year I wanted to stay. That’s why I’m so sad.
“It was like my blood ran cold. I was really sad. It was really difficult right up to now. I’m still trying to process it all. When I get home I will still feel bad; it will be even worse. I’m not ready for this.”
What else did Messi say?
Lionel Messi won 34 trophies with Barcelona after making his first-team debut aged 17 in October 2004
Messi, Barcelona’s record goalscorer, submitted a transfer request last summer before agreeing to stay for the final year of his contract.
That expired on 1 July and Messi is now in talks over a move to PSG, where he would play alongside Kylian Mbappe and former Barca team-mate Neymar.
“It is a possibility, but I have not agreed anything with anyone,” he said. “I have got different clubs interested. Nothing is definitive but clearly we are talking to them.”
Messi left Argentina for Spain when he was 13 and made his first-team debut for Barcelona aged 17 in October 2004.
He went on to score 672 goals in 778 games and helped the Spanish giants win 34 trophies, replicas of which were displayed at his news conference at the Nou Camp.
“I’m so grateful for the love that everyone’s shown me, for all my team-mates, and the club being by my side,” he said. “Today I have to say goodbye to all this.
“I arrived when I was very young, 13 years old, and after 21 years I am leaving with my wife and three Catalan-Argentine children.
“I cannot be more proud of everything I did and lived in this city. I have no doubt that, after a few years away, we will return because it is our home.”
Messi added: “I’m leaving the club without seeing the fans for over a year and a half [due to the pandemic]. If I imagined it, I would imagine the Camp Nou full, and to say goodbye properly. But it has to be this way.”