The hardest thing to say is goodbye, but that’s what Lionel Messi has done today. The Argentine gave a press conference at Camp Nou to bid farewell to Barcelona, the club he joined as a teenager and the only one he’s represented throughout his amazing career.
Every football fan on earth was intrigued to hear what the 34-year-old had to say; a huge crowd gathered outside the stadium to wait for him. Messi was clearly emotional, struggling through the press conference with tears in his eyes. His wife, Antonella, had to hand him a tissue before he began, with the Argentine struggling to get his words out at first. He received a touching standing ovation from all in attendance.
😢 La emoción a flor de piel pic.twitter.com/GOVpOeBpoB
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) August 8, 2021
Barcelona confirmed Messi’s departure on Thursday evening, causing an immense shock amidst the football world. His contract had expired at the end of June, but most believed that a renewal was inevitable. Despite his age, he’s not slowing down; Messi was player of the tournament at the Copa America as Argentina won their first title since 1993, scoring four goals and contributing five assists. Argentina beat Brazil in the final in Rio de Janeiro.
But La Liga’s strict financial controls and Barcelona’s inability to shift deadwood has meant that the Blaugrana couldn’t retain the services of what many consider to be the greatest footballer of all time. He’s expected to sign for Paris Saint-Germain in the coming days, where he’ll reunite with former Barcelona teammate Neymar, while Barcelona enter a new era.
“Last year when I sent the burofax and all that, I knew what I had to do, I was convinced,” Messi said in the press conference. “But this year, no. I was convinced that myself and my family were going to stay here, in our home. That’s what we wanted most. But today I have to say goodbye.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 8, 2021
“I never imagined this goodbye. I wanted it to be with fans in the stadium, to hear one more ovation from them, one more show of love. Leaving after spending 18 months without fans singing my name; I couldn’t have imagined it. But it’s happened like this.
“I hope I can return in some moment to be part of this club, in whatever role, and be able to bring something to keep this club as being the best in the world. After 21 years I’m leaving with my wife and my children, three Catalan-Argentines. I couldn’t be more proud of all I’ve done and lived in this city. I have no doubt that after some years away we’ll return; this is our home. I’ve promised that to my kids, too.”