Argentinian striker Lionel Messi bids a tearful farewell to Barcelona

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Lionel Messi fought back tears Sunday as he began a press conference at which he confirmed he is leaving Barcelona, where he has played his entire career.

The 34-year-old Argentinian superstar, a six times Ballon d’Or winner, has been out of contract since the end of June and Barca say they cannot afford to keep him.

Speaking to journalists, he said: “This year, my family and myself were convinced that we were going to stay in our home. That was what we wanted the most but unfortunately, today I am here to say goodbye after many years, my whole life here. I was only 13 years old when I arrived here.”

“After 21 years I am leaving with my three Catalan Argentine children,” said Messi, who won 10 league titles with the club.

“I gave everything for this club from the first day that I arrived right to the last. I never imagined having to say goodbye,” he added.

Paris Saint-Germain is widely expected to try to entice him to the Parc des Princes. Asked about joining the French side, Messi said “it is a possibility, yeah.”

“But right now, I don’t have anything signed with any club. Obviously, when the club communicated I was leaving, I received a lot of phone calls of clubs showing interest. However, there is nothing confirmed yet, but we are talking, yeah,” he said.

Last year he sought to engineer a release from his contract in frustration at some poor showings in Europe by the club where he has won four Champions Leagues but ended up staying.

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Last month Barcelona, battling huge debts, had said they were in agreement in principle with the player and his entourage on a new five-year deal on much reduced wages.


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