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Spanish media pore over Messi ‘drama’ as Barca exit looms

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 3, 2021 Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) quarter-final football match between Granada FC and FC Barcelona at Nuevo Los Carmenes stadium in Granada. – Lionel Messi will end his 20-year career with Barcelona after the Argentine superstar failed to reach agreement on a new deal with the club, the Spanish giants announced on August 5, 2021. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Lionel Messi’s shock impending departure from his only club Barcelona was the talk of Spanish media on Friday as they pored over the dramatic news.

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“Drama, Messi is off!” was how Barcelona-based daily Sport saw the development while another Catalan sports journal, Mundo Deportivo, said the Argentinian superstar’s departure from the Catalan giants was a “bombshell”.

“Unbelievable,” was how El Periodico — also based in the city — saw the story which it illustrated with a picture of the iconic number ten who signed on with Barca’s youth academy in 2000 as a 13-year-old in 2004.

Another Barcelona daily, La Vanguardia, headlined its coverage with “Messi, sad adieu to a prodigious era” alongside a photograph of the 34-year-old ten-time league champion and four-time European champion saluting the fans.

Messi had been widely reported to be set to stay with the club for another five years on reduced wages despite attempting to leave last year in frustration at Barca’s recent disappointing Champions League showings.

But after 20 years with him in their ranks, Barca said Thursday they had failed to reach agreement on a new deal for the signature of one of the greatest players of all time owing to “economic and structural obstacles.”

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is therefore now free to find another club — with Paris Saint Germain a rumoured destination — with his previous contract having expired on June 30.

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According to Sport, “Leo Messi was without any doubt the first to be surprised at how the negotiations panned out” as “he thought all was to be sealed Thursday” at a final meeting between his father and agent and Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

Barca blamed the impasse on the Spanish League’s salary cap and Laporta was due to elaborate in a press conference Friday.

National daily El Pais commented that “nobody expected such a bizarre abandonment” of talks to seal the mooted new deal which would have seen Messi remain at the Camp Nou until he is 39.

His departure, the paper opined, represents “a financial, sporting and moral failure” on the part of the club.

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