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A photo of Lionel Messi alongside Neymar and a number of PSG players has sent the rumour mill into overdrive after Barcelona announced the football superstar's departure.
The Spanish club announced the bombshell news on Thursday, citing economic and structural obstacles to the renewal of a previously agreed deal.
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Argentinian superstar Messi, who has spent his whole career at Barcelona, had been expected to sign a new five-year deal with the Catalan club, which would have included a salary reduction of 50 per cent.
But Barcelona needed to financially restructure in order to get the deal over the line.
It proved impossible in the end as they failed to reduce their wage bill in order and stay within La Liga's Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
La Liga chief Javier Tebas said last month that Barcelona, who have a total debt of more than $1.18 billion, would not be shown any leniency when it comes to obeying the league's strict financial control rules.
The news of Messi's exit comes a day after La Liga agreed in principle to sell 10 per cent of a newly-formed company housing most of its business to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for 2.7 billion euros ($3.2 billion).
"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," Barca said in a statement.
"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."
Are Barcelona calling La Liga's bluff?
Manchester City and PSG have emerged as the frontrunners to snare Messi's signature, with a photo of Messi and some PSG players circulating on social media.
However some observers believe Messi's exit announcement is just Barca calling La Liga's bluff.
Some have suggested that threatening to allow the best player in the world to leave the league because of imposed constraints may persuade La Liga to loosen their financial fair play regulations to allow him to stay.
Messi joined Barca's youth set-up at age 13, becoming the club's all-time top scorer and appearance maker with 672 goals in 778 games in all competitions.
The Argentina forward was free to negotiate a transfer with other clubs after his deal ran out at the end of June, but Barcelona had always maintained he wanted to stay with the club.
Messi had tried to leave Barcelona in August 2020, making a formal request for an exit after a break down in his relationship with then president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
But successor Joan Laporta, who presided over the Argentine's rise to greatness, convinced him to stay.
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