Tearful Lionel Messi bids farewell to Barcelona in emotional press conference, says PSG "a possibility" (Video)
A tearful Lionel Messi said his transfer to Paris St-Germain was "a possibility, but nothing is agreed" as he confirmed his departure from Barcelona.
Messi's 21-year affiliation with Barcelona is coming to an end because the club can no longer afford to fulfil the new deal he agreed to because of La Liga's salary cap.
The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is now a free agent at the age of 34.
"My family and I were convinced we were going to stay here, at home," he said during a news conference on Sunday.
"This is the end with this club and now a new story will begin," added the Argentina forward. "Yes, it's one of the most difficult moments for me.
"I don't want to leave this club - it's a club I love and this is a moment I didn't expect."Last year I wanted to leave, this year I wanted to stay. That's why I'm so sad.
"It was like my blood ran cold. I was really sad. It was really difficult right up to now. I'm still trying to process it all.
"When I get home I will still feel bad; it will be even worse. I'm not ready for this."
What Messi said about his next club
Last summer, Messi, Barcelona's all-time leading scorer, handed in a transfer request before opting to honour the final year of his contract.
Messi is reportedly in talks to join Paris Saint-Germain, where he would play with Kylian Mbappe and former Barcelona teammate Neymar.
"It is a possibility, but I have not agreed anything with anyone," he said. "I have got different clubs interested. Nothing is definitive but clearly we are talking to them."
Messi moved to Spain when he was 13 years old and made his first-team appearance for Barcelona in October 2004 when he was 17 years old.
He scored 672 goals in 778 appearances and assist the Spanish giants in winning 34 trophies, copies of which were on display during his Nou Camp press conference.
"I'm so grateful for the love that everyone's shown me, for all my team-mates, and the club being by my side," he said. "Today I have to say goodbye to all this.
"I arrived when I was very young, 13 years old, and after 21 years I am leaving with my wife and three Catalan-Argentine children.
"I cannot be more proud of everything I did and lived in this city. I have no doubt that, after a few years away, we will return because it is our home."
Messi added: "I'm leaving the club without seeing the fans for over a year and a half [due to the pandemic]. If I imagined it, I would imagine the Camp Nou full, and to say goodbye properly. But it has to be this way."
Messi said he reduced his salary by 50% but Barcelona's debt forced him out
Messi appeared set to extend his stay at the Nou Camp after signing a new five-year contract in July, taking a 50% thereby decreasing his previous contract's £123 million per season.
However, the agreement was contingent on player departures to bring Barca's pay bill under La Liga's cap, which the club was unable to achieve.
"I offered to reduce my salary by 50% and they didn't ask me for anything else," Messi said. "It is not true that they asked me for anything more.
"I only know that it was not possible because of La Liga, because the club did not want to go into more debt."
On Friday, Barcelona president Joan Laporta claimed that keeping Messi would have put the club's future in jeopardy for the next 50 years.
Messi's representatives contacted PSG once it became evident that Barca would not honour the deal they had agreed upon with Messi, but wherever Messi goes next, he has stated that he wants to "play my last years competing for titles".
He also issued a warning to Dani Alves, a former Barcelona teammate, after the 38-year-old right-back helped Brazil win Olympic gold, extending his career trophy tally to 43.