"I have done everything I can to stay. I don't know about the club"

An emotional Leo Messi says he had "cut his salary by 50%"

4 min

Leo Messi could not hold back his tears just as he came out to speak in the Auditori 1899 at the Camp Nou. In just a few days, when everything seemed ready for the Argentine striker to sign to renew his contract with Barça, he saw his relationship with the club come to a definitive end. Accompanied by the 35 trophies he has won with the Barça shirt and by his family, as well as president Joan Laporta and most of the directors, coach Ronald Koeman and the first team, and also former teammates like Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernández, the player has given his version of the farewell.

"This is not the farewell that I would have liked to have"

Messi found it hard to get going. He stood for a few minutes, wiping his tears with a handkerchief given to him by his wife. At the end he began his speech, with some first words that were almost impossible to understand, the result of emotion. "On the day of the burofax I was very clear about things and knew what I wanted to say. Now, I don't. I've been thinking about it for days. It's hard to sleep. I thought I would stay at this club that I love". Messi had burst into tears and found it difficult to express himself clearly. An initial speech that earned him a standing ovation from the Auditori. A brief respite before continuing with the question and answer session.

"I have done everything I can to stay. I don't know about the club"

Everyone wonders why this end. And Messi has only half cleared the doubts. He has validated the version that Joan Laporta gave on Friday, explaining that the agreement was made but in the end it breaks because La Liga does not authorise his signing. The feeling is that Messi, although he did not want to blame anyone directly, implied that he expected a final gesture from Barça, as if the club had not done everything they could. "I have done everything I can to stay. I don't know about the club".

"I lowered my salary by 50%"

Anyway, Messi avoided making any direct criticism of the club or the directive of Joan Laporta. On the contrary, he explained that he met with the new president after the elections and that, once the meal had finished, he was "convinced that I would continue". "My contract would not be a problem", said the Argentine. "I had reduced my salary by 50%", he added in reference to a last contract that, in the end, has not been signed. "I have read many things these last few days, that Barça had asked me for an extra 30% reduction. This is not true. They didn't ask me for anything more", Messi commented.

"PSG? For now I have not closed anything with anyone"

All that remains to be done now is for Leo Messi to find another club to sign him. And who is best positioned is Paris Saint-Germain. In the French capital they take it for granted and the striker, indirectly, has acknowledged that the agreement is close although he assured that "at this stage" he has "not closed anything with anyone". In fact, the player commented that, when Barça issued the statement confirming that he would not continue, "many clubs" were interested in his situation, detailing that PSG was one of them. At the same time, he responded to a photograph that had gone viral on social media a few days earlier in Ibiza with players from the French side. "That was a coincidence, because Neymar was there and we arranged to meet up. They joked about me going to Paris. At the time I didn't know all this would happen", he added.

"I will continue to compete for as long as I can"

Asked about his future as a player, beyond the club he plays for, Leo Messi has said he has plenty of energy for a while. "How long? The truth is that I don't know how many years I can go on. It will depend on my physical condition. Thank God I haven't had any serious injuries in my career. I will play as long as I can. There are many teammates who tell me that after this [retiring], the day to day life is very hard. I'm going to keep competing until I can".

"It was a bit of a shock. I didn't expect it"

Messi returned from holiday this week convinced that he would join training and that this Sunday he would be with the team for the official presentation on the day of the Gamper. The Argentine has not specified what day and at what time he knew that everything went down the drain, but he has commented that the news fell "like a bucket of cold water". "I didn't expect it. We are trying to assimilate it as best we can. Now it's difficult for me here and maybe when I go home it will be even worse. But with time I will get over all this", he said. The Argentinian, who had on his left the 35 trophies he has won with Barça, spent his last few minutes at the Camp Nou facilities having his photo taken. It was a private event which the crowd of journalists and media who were covering the farewell press conference could not attend and who, anecdotally, had to finish their work on the outside stairs of the auditorium.

"As Laporta said, the club is always more important than anyone else"

In his line of explaining his feelings, Messi has summed up his state of mind: "Last year I wanted to leave, and not this year. That's why I'm sad", commented the striker, who also gave validity to one of the statements made by president Joan Laporta when he explained the reasons why the club had stood up. "Barça is a great club and I'm sure more players will come. As Laporta said, the club is always more important than anyone else".