Lionel Messi has officially left Barcelona following the end of his contract and the financial issues which left them unable to sign-off on an extended stay.
Having seen his previous deal expire on 30 June, news came out last week that a contract was provisionally agreed and only awaiting La Liga’s go ahead. However, Barca have now admitted defeat and made no effort to hide the fact that they’re blaming La Liga – as well as the previous calamitous leadership of Josep Bartomeu – and looking towards protecting the club’s future.
“I can’t make a decision that will affect the club for 50 years,” said president Joan Laporta.
“The club is over 100 years old and it’s above everyone and everything, even above the best player of the world. We will always thank him for everything he’s done for us.
“In order to have fair play, we need to do this or make an effort which would put the club at risk. We couldn’t keep going with this and we needed to make a decision, which we have.”
Whilst a massive hole remains in Barca’s finances, an even bigger one has just developed at the heart of the team. The surreal statistics behind Messi’s Barca career are well known. Here are five stand-out figures.
Lionel Messi has scored 672 goals in a Barcelona shirt across all competitive competitions. These have come in 778 matches – of which have also seen a remarkable 305 assists.
Messi has played a total of 42,142 minutes across all La Liga matches. The last of which came in a 2-1 home defeat to Celta Vigo on 16 May. Messi scored Barca’s only goal that day.
One red card. Lionel Messi received just the one dismissal across his Barca career. This came as they were beaten 3-2 by Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final in January 2021.
Messi’s 35 trophy honours with Barcelona includes 10 league titles, four Champions League winners medals, seven Copas del Rey, three Club World Cups, three European Super Cups and eight Spanish Super Cups.
Lionel Messi has won six Ballon d’Or titles during his time at Barcelona. He is out on his own as the only player to have won it six times – leading Cristiano Ronaldo on five.
Image Courtesy: 2 TOP (www.flickr.com/photos/2top/8729191435), Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic | Flickr