One-liner: Lionel Messi was officially no longer an FC Barcelona player on Thursday, as his contract with the Spanish club ended on June 30.
Need to know: The expiration of the contract came 16 years after the Argentine forward signed his first professional contract with the club.
- Messi arrived at Barcelona at age 13, when he and his family came to Spain to try his luck at the club’s youth academy
- He made his official debut on October 16, 2004, and two years later helped the club win its first Champions League in a squad led by Ronaldinho
Messi’s achievements: The 34-year-old Messi has won 35 titles in 17 seasons with Barcelona. He helped the club win the Champions League four times, the Spanish league 10 times, the Copa del Rey seven times and the Spanish Super Cup eight times.
- While with the club, Messi earned himself a record six Ballon d’Or awards. He is the team’s all-time leading scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances, and the top scorer in the Spanish league with 474 goals in 520 matches. He also is the player with most matches with the club
- He was the top scorer in the Spanish league in eight seasons and the top scorer in the Champions League on six occasions. His 26 goals against Real Madrid are a record for the Clasico matches against Barcelona’s rival
What the club said: Barcelona’s poor finances have become the stumbling block to getting Messi to sign another contract, according to club president Joan Laporta.
- Late on Wednesday, Laporta told a sports talk radio show that the deal was being held up only because of the Spanish league’s strict financial fair play rules
- "We want him to stay and Leo wants to stay, it is all going well," Laporta told Onda Cero radio
- "We still have to deal with the issue of financial fair play. We are in the process of finding the best solution for both parties."
Messi in Brazil: Currently, Messi is in Brazil leading Argentina at the Copa America.
Messi’s contract: Messi’s previous contract, signed in 2017, earned him €138mn ($164mn) per season.
Pay cut: Laporta has said that Messi is willing to take a significant pay cut.
- Laporta recently said Barcelona’s finances "were worse than I had imagined." He said the payroll plus other payments tallied €650mn ($771mn).
Salary cap: The Spanish league slashed the salary cap for Barcelona down from a league-high €671mn ($796mn) for the 2019-20 season to just €383mn ($454mn) for the last campaign.
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