Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona after financial, structural obstacles derail deal

Barcelona's Lionel Messi during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Huesca at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, March 15, 2021. (Joan Monfort/AP)

Lionel Messi will not be returning to Barcelona despite agreeing to a new contract, the club announced on Thursday.

Messi had agreed to a deal in principle earlier in the summer but Barcelona said he can't stay "because of financial and structural obstacles."

La Liga imposed a new salary limit for the 2020-21 season and Barcelona was told they'd have to reduce its gargantuan wage bill to comply. Further reductions are expected for the upcoming campaign as well. However, the club has since signed Eric Garcia, Sergio Aguero, Emerson Royal and Memphis Depay in recent weeks.

Messi agreed to a "significant" pay cut for both sides to agree to a new deal, according to ESPN. His previous contract was valued at around €500 million.

The 34-year-old was a free agent last summer and threatened to leave the club, but the election of club president Joan Laporta appeared to convince Messi to stay.

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