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Lionel Messi Will Leave FC Barcelona, The Club Says

Manu Fernandez, AP
In this 2019 file photo, Lionel Messi waves at the crowd as he holds the trophy of the best Spanish La Liga player prior to a soccer match between FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona says Lionel Messi will not stay with the club.

It's official: Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi will not stay at FC Barcelona.

The departure comes less than a month after Messi and Barcelona verbally agreed to a five-year deal.

"Despite having reached an agreement between FC Barcelona and Leo Messi and with the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, it cannot be formalized due to economic and structural obstacles (in Spanish LaLiga regulations)," FC Barcelona said in a statement. "Faced with this situation, Lionel Messi will not continue linked to FC Barcelona."

Messi had previously ended his 21-year contract with Barcelona in June. He is currently a free agent.

Josie Fischels is an intern on NPR's News Desk.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.