LIONEL MESSI'S Barcelona career appears to be over after the club announced they were unable to renew his contract due to " financial and structural obstacles".
The Argentine superstar had reportedly agreed a massive pay-cut in order to extend his stay at Barcelona - who are currently in serious financial difficulties.
Both player and club were ready to agree a new six-year-old deal on Thursday, but in a dramatic turn of events, the Spanish club announced that Messi would be leaving.
"Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled," the club said last night.
"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 La Liga regulations]."
"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."
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 6, 2021
Greatest of all time
It brings to an end quite possibly the greatest ever stint any footballer has had at any club throughout history.
Messi not only managed 672 goals in 778 matches, and won a record-setting six Ballon d'Ors during his 17 years with the club, he also redefined what it means to be the very best.
The consistency with which Messi produces elite-level performances each week is unmatched in the sport, and while some may still try and awkwardly cram Cristiano Ronaldo's name onto the same pedestal, the truth of the matter is, there has never been a player like Messi before, and there likely won't be ever again.
Even legendary figures like Diego Maradona and Pele weren't able to achieve the levels of all-round brilliance Messi makes look so routine. He is an enigma, a genuine sporting marvel. A genius.
Through a combination of horrendous financial mismanagement and the financial constraints brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, FC Barcelona find themselves on the verge of monetary collapse.
What a shame it is that the greatest player of all time should end arguably the greatest club-career of all time in a manner like this.