Lionel Messi 'wanted to stay' says Barcelona president
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Manchester City have reportedly offered a proposal to free agent Lionel Messi, whose Barcelona exit shook world football on Thursday evening.
Messi was widely expected to sign a new deal with the La Liga giants, despite their difficult financial position.
But a short three-paragraph statement issued by the club on Thursday confirmed the legendary forward’s departure, with Barca blaming the Spanish football authority’s “regulations on player registration”.
It read: “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 Spanish La Liga regulations on player registration.
“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.
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“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 has now switched to where Messi – who joined the Catalan side’s youth ranks aged 13 – will now play his football.
It was widely reported last summer that the 34-year-old wanted to leave and felt that he could break out of his contract to reunite with former Barca boss Pep Guardiola at Man City.
However, the rearranged dates of the transfer window – pushed back due to the Coronavirus pandemic – meant that he was unable to do so.
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French outlet Le10 Sport have claimed that the Premier League champions have now renewed their interest in Messi and their owners, the City Football Group, have offered him a three-year deal.
They continue that the stipulation is that it would be a two-year spell at City and a further year in MLS with their affiliate side New York City F.C.
It is a conflicting claim to other reports.
The Athletic reported that City’s transfer plans have not changed and that they are still pursuing Tottenham striker Harry Kane after smashing the English transfer record by signing Jack Grealish for £100million.
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Former Aston Villa captain Grealish has signed a six-year deal to join Guardiola’s side.
The 25-year-old has even taken the No 10 shirt that Kane wore has worn for Spurs in the last few years and that Messi made so synonymous with his time at Barca.
Kane is pushing for a move to join Grealish at City and has taken extreme measures by avoiding Spurs’ pre-season training.
The England captain has a desire to win trophies and therefore sees his future away from the club where he has spent his entire senior career.
But Messi’s change of circumstance is likely to have sewed some doubt into Kane’s mind, with his knowledge that the Argentine is a long-term target for City.
Messi is yet to comment on his future but has also been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Independent claim that the Copa America winner has already spoken to PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino about a move to the French capital.
However, Pochettino refused to be drawn into commenting on speculation.
The former Spurs boss has said that club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo Araujo have been left to deal with transfer business.
Pochettino said: “We know what happened yesterday between Messi and Barca… but we are fully focused on beating Troyes.
“Nasser and Leonardo are working hard to improve the team.”
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