ARGENTINIAN football legend Lionel Messi broke down in tears as he said goodbye to the club which has been his home for his entire career.
He was speaking at a press conference to confirm his departure, and was reduced to tears when members of the press gave him a standing ovation.
The 34-year-old has been with FC Barcelona since childhood and has scored an astounding 672 goals in 778 senior appearances since 2003.
The six times Ballon d’Or winner had by all accounts wanted to leave the club last year, but was finally ‘persuaded’ to stay when club bosses refused to let him go.
But having been a free agent since July 1, he would appear to have had a change of heart, and was willing to accept a 50% pay cut in exchange for a new contract.
However, the parlous state of Barcelona’s finances has meant they can’t keep him without falling foul of the La Liga’s financial fair play rules.
Paris St Germain have reportedly already offered him a two year contract to lure him to France where he would be reunited with Brazilian superstar Neymar.
Barça fans are devasted at the loss. Crowds gathered outside Camp Nou for his goodbye statement and others waiting outside his home on Monday spoke of their sadness at the club’s greatest player leaving after 21 years.
One Barça member filed complaints with a French court and with the European Commission to try to block any move by PSG to sign Messi.