Published 9 August, 2021
A highly emotional Lionel Messi officially bid his farewell to Barcelona on Sunday, standing before club officials, his family and his team-mates to say goodbye.
The Argentinian was given a standing ovation as he Walking out in front of a room full of teammates and journalists, Messi was in tears before he even began to speak.
He then spoke for a few minutes about the situation, saying that he was struggling to come to terms with the fact that he would be leaving Barcelona and that he had always thought he would say his goodbyes on the pitch.
The Argentinian made it very clear that he had wanted to stay at Barcelona and had been expecting to sign a new deal with the club.
He won 10 LaLiga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, seven Copas del Rey, three FIFA Club World Cups, the same number of UEFA Super Cups and eight Spanish Super Cups in his time there, scoring 672 goals.
After entering a packed room at Camp Nou to make a statement, Messi took some minutes to compose himself as he fought through tears to be able to even say hello to those in attendance. A huge crowd of supporters was also outside the ground to see him, expectantly waiting to hear what he had to say.
“To be honest I don’t know what to say here,” he said. “These recent days, I’ve been giving lots of thought to what I could say, and the truth is I can’t think of anything.
“This is really difficult for me after so many years, being here my entire life. I’m not ready for this. And honestly, with all the nonsense of last year with the burofax, I was convinced I knew what I wanted to say, but this year is not the same.”
Messi openly admitted he wanted to leave Barcelona at the end of season 2019-2021, but ended up staying. On Sunday, he claimed that his outlook had changed since then, and he was desperate to stay at the club this time and finish his career there.
“We were convinced that we’d stay here, that we’d stay at home,” he said of himself and his family. “We wanted that more than anything. We thought we’d be staying here in Barcelona.
“The time we’ve had here in the city and in the sport has been amazing.
“Today, I have to say goodbye to all of this. I’ve been here my entire life – since I was 13. After 21 years, I’m leaving with my wife, with my three little Catalan-Argentinean kids, and I can’t tell you everything.
“I’m just really grateful for everything, all my team-mates, all my former team-mates, everyone at the club that’s been by my side. There are so many people.
“I gave everything for this club, for this shirt, from the day I arrived to the very last.
“I’d love to be able to go in a different way. I never imagined having to say goodbye because I never thought it would happen. I never imagined it this way. I imagined it with people on the pitch.
Messi lamented the fact he could not say goodbye to the fans in the way that he wanted, particularly since the coronavirus pandemic has kept fans away from stadiums across the world for the past 18 months.
“It’s been difficult not to hear [the fans] nearby, shouting my name,” the 34 year old added. “I leave without seeing the fans for a year and half. That’s really difficult.
“But it has to be this way. I say again, I’m so grateful for the love people have shown me.
“Honestly, I’m forgetting so many things that I wanted to say, but that’s all I can say right now. I’ve thought about it a lot, but the words won’t come to me.”
Messi took questions from the media in the room after giving his tearful statement, but any questions related to his next club remained unanswered.
Ligue 1 powerfulhiuse Paris Saint-German is the favourite to sign him, but Messi insisted at the current time that he is not attached or committed to any other club.
There is still a month remaining before the transfer window slams shut, but Messi wouldn’t be drawn on whether he’d play a few more games before that day comes, simply saying it is not possible.