After long weeks of speculation over the future of its captain, Barcelona have confirmed the departure of Lionel Messi from the club.
The Argentine great will be leave the La Liga club after 20 years.
After a meeting on Thursday, Messi and Barcelona failed to reach an agreement on a new deal.
The six-time Ballon D’or winner, the highest by any player yet, scored 672 goals in 778 appearances for the club since 2004.
A message on Barcelona’s website reads:
“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).
“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.”
Attention now will be shifted to the tussle for the signature of arguably the greatest living footballer.
Manchester City of England and Paris st Germain are expected to lead in this race for a free transfer deal where a few issues will be considered.
Primary is the club that has the capacity to deal with a big player like Messi and the deep pocket for the wage bill.