A tearful Lionel Messi has refused to confirm his next move is agreed but admits he is talking about a lot of things, amid speculation he is set to join Paris Saint-Germain after leaving Barcelona.
Barca announced on Thursday that Messi, a free agent since his contract expired in June, will not rejoin the club because of financial problems.
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Messi, 34, had reached an agreement to sign a new five-year contract at Camp Nou, extending his 21-year link with Barca, but sources told ESPN on Sunday that everything is agreed with PSG and he will be presented at the Eiffel Tower in the coming days. Sources added Messi will travel to Paris later on Sunday and complete a medical before signing a two-year deal, with the option of a third year.
“The truth is I don’t know what to say,” Messi, who was in tears, said. “In these last few days I have been thinking, giving lots of thought to what I would say. The truth is that I can’t think of anything. This is really difficult for me after so many years, being here my entire life. I’m not ready for this.
“Honestly, last year, all the mess with the burofax, I was convinced I knew what I wanted to say. This year is not the same. My family and I were convinced we were going to stay, that’s what we wanted more than anything. We were at home. Now I have to say goodbye to all of this. I have been here so many years, my entire life, since I was 13. After 21 years, I am leaving with my wife, with my three little Catalan-Argentine kids. I can’t say that we won’t come back because this is our home and I promised my children that.
“I’m really grateful to my teammates, my former teammates. Everyone at the club. So many people, even some who we have only met a few times. So many beautiful things have happened at this club, some bad things, but it’s all helped me improve and become the person I am today. I have always given everything for this shirt. I never imagined leaving this way, I imagined it with people in the stadium, the last cheers, but we’ve not been able to play with fans because of the pandemic.
“It’s been difficult not to have the fans here, to hear them shouting my name. I leave without seeing them for a year and a half. I would have imagined Camp Nou full, close to the fans… saying goodbye properly. But it has to be this way. I want to say again, I am so grateful for all the love I have received here. I hope I can come back and be part of this club in any way, to help this club be the best in the world. Forgetting so many things … but that’s all I can say right now.”
Of his future, Messi added: “That is one possibility [PSG]. There’s nothing closed at the moment but we’re talking about a lot of things. After Barca’s statement, a lot of clubs showed an interest. But nothing final, although there are talks, of course.”
ESPN’s Julien Laurens contributed to this report.