THE ENDGAME: Lionel Messi and Barcelona officially part ways

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Dread it, run from it, destiny or in this case, fate arrives all the same. The day that every Barcelona fan both old and young feared finally came and the result was that arguably the greatest player in the history of their club, Lionel Messi will be leaving after 21 trophy-ladened years.

After a shocking post on twitter earlier in the week by Barcelona’s official handle that Messi will not continue at the club due to financial constraints, a lot of anger arose from the fans demanding explanations and it was stated in some quarters that even Messi was not happy with the manner of the announcement.

Today was supposed to continue the annual trend of Lionel Messi giving a speech before the Joan Gamper trophy match but it turned out to be a farewell interview for the player in front of the press to give his side of the story and final words to his beloved club.

A visibly-shaken Messi started his interview stating the fact that He was not his desire to leave the club this year, even though his mind was made up last year. He pointed out that his young family are rooted in the city and had planned for them to stay.

He went on to show his gratitude and immense appreciation to the club for everything, insisting that he gave all and was happy with all he achieved at the club even though this was never the way he wanted to leave. In tears, he spoke of how he had missed the fans wished for one more opportunity with them, stating that “I would have liked to be close to them in a day like today”.

When asked for his most precious moment, he replied that his debut for the club was probably the greatest, stating that it was where his dream came true and everything started. He was subsequently asked if the plan was to sign a contract extension after his holiday, and he answered affirmatively, stating that it was the league’s rules that hindered it.

He gave a vague reply when asked if Barcelona did all they could to make him stay, while reiterating that he wanted to commit to the club. He went on to confirm the moment as the hardest in his life, but insisted that he will adapt.

About the possibility of joining PSG, He stated that nothing has been agreed yet but confirmed talks between them. On his legacy at the club, he first declared that he wanted to be remembered for the club’s values, but later added that “people can remember me whatever way they choose”.

When pressed about how the club will cope without him, Messi talked about the improving squad quality and that people will get used to it. He then stated that he would come back to pay homage to the fans, insisting that the “We will do something” concerning the fans.

He insisted He had no problem with the La Liga’s Chief, Javier Tebas when asked about the inability of the league to accept his contract from Barcelona due to their debt.

On the possibility of facing the club in the future, Messi insisted that he remains competitively on the hunt for trophies, while hoping to surpass Dani Alves’ trophy tally.

Regarding his future, when asked if the  photos with some PSG players signaled his next destination, he replied that it was pure coincidence, while insisting that he did not know how long he has left at the top, chipping in “let’s see how my physique respond” to his reply.

When asked why Barcelona decided to stop trying to get the deal done, Messi quipped that the solution became an impossible one due to the debt issue and that he also had to consider his future early after discussions with Barcelona President, Joan Laporta. He also answered that he tried all means to stay but nothing else could be done while adding a very definite statement “I want to win another Champions League” when asked if he would have loved to win titles with the youngsters.

When asked if he could have further reduced his wages, Messi replied that he was not asked to do that. 

Finally, when asked if he felt lied to, Messi replied that everyone tried their best and declared that “I was always honest to the fans and never lied. When one does not talk a lot, people say a lot of things on my behalf, there are a lot of lies told”.

That statement ended the conference and effectively the relationship between Lionel Messi and the club, with thousands of fans clapping outside the stadium to bid farewell to the mercurial Argentine. 

Question marks still remain and probably will not end over the situation with Barcelona openly standing against the £2.7 billion cash injection deal secured by La Liga for its clubs from the firm CVC which could have helped Barcelona settle the contract issue of Lionel Messi, adding more heat to the burning questions. 

The biggest uncertainty however still remains where Lionel Messi ends up next? Will it be to the oil-rich abode of PSG where he will join his longtime friend, Neymar or will another club spring up a surprise as Messi confirmed that other clubs are in the mix for his signature. 

All in all, Barcelona as a club bids farewell to the man, the legend, the myth, Lionel Andres Messi after 21 years, a club record 682 goals and 35 trophies. For the Barcelona, it is the end, but for Lionel Messi at 34, it might just be the start of another great adventure.

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