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Barcelona announce Lionel Messi departure

Lionel Messi
(Image credit: PA)

Barcelona have said that Lionel Messi will be leaving the club, despite agreeing on new terms to remain at the Nou Camp.

Messi's contract expired in the summer, and despite initial concern that he would join a European rival, the matter appeared to have been settled.

However, Barça have been working to reduce their wage bill – an issue that delayed the confirmation that new signings Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay would be able to play this season – and have now cited this as the reason that the Argentinian forward will leave, announcing on its website that "Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona".

The club says that "both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled", but claims that "financial and structural obstacles" set by La Liga are the reason their record appearance holder will leave.

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Messi came close to leaving last year, with Inter Milan initially tipped to land his signature, before serious talk of him being close to signing for Manchester City.

Any potential suitor would now be able to sign Messi on a free transfer, though would expect to pay a substantial salary to the 34-year-old.

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