Watch CBSN Live

Lionel Messi will not return to FC Barcelona, leaves club after 17 seasons

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona shows his dejection during the La Liga Santander match between FC Barcelona and RC Celta at Camp Nou on May 16, 2021, in Barcelona, Spain. David Ramos / Getty Images

Soccer superstar Lionel Messi will not renew his contract with FC Barcelona, the team announced Thursday. Messi has played for the club in the last 17 seasons where he has been the team's all-time scorer over the course of nearly 800 games.

FC Barcelona said in a statement that despite an agreement in place between the team and Messi, the club said a new contract cannot be signed because of "financial and structural obstacles," citing regulations from he Spanish soccer league, LaLiga.

"As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona," the team said. "Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.

"FC Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life," it added.

Considered one of the world's best soccer players, Messi and the club had agreed to a five-year contract extension, but LaLiga's salary cap rules mean that agreement cannot be met, according to CBS Sports.

Messi apparently earned $163 million per season, according to The Associated Press, which cited his previous contract that was signed in 2017.

His departure signifies a historic moment for Barcelona and sent shockwaves to the rest of the soccer world. He first joined Barca's soccer academy in 2000 and went on to play 778 games for the team. He leaves as the team leader in goals (672), assists (305) and matches played.

He helped Barcelona win 10 LaLiga and four Champions League titles — and as far as individual accolades, he has won the Ballon d'Or six times. 

Fresh winning off the Copa America with Argentina, Messi will have now to look for new home. However, he will not have a shortage of suitors. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.