Messi became a free agent last month after his original contract with Barca expired, though was set to re-sign with the club following positive initial talks between all parties.
Messi was in line for a fresh long-term deal, albeit on lower pay terms. Now, however, the Catalan giants have confirmed the agreement is dead due to economic and structural obstacles (Spanish LaLiga regulations).
Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona this summer after an agreement could not be reached
Issuing a shock statement on Thursday evening, Barcelona said: ‘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 (Spanish LaLiga regulations) .
‘Given this situation, Lionel Messi will not continue linked to FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of both the player and the Club cannot finally be fulfilled.
‘Barca would like to thank with all its heart the player’s contribution to the enhancement of the institution and wishes him the best in his personal and professional life.’
Earlier in the evening the news had initially been broke via Catalan radio outlet RAC1, who noted that Messi’s situation at Barca had become ‘irreversible’.
He is, it was reported, ‘more out of Barca than ever’ and ‘does not like the current squad’.
The 34-year-old is said to have communicated his opinions to the club on Wednesday upon his return to the city, following an off-season holiday with his wife and children.
Yet as the news began to break online and spread like wildfire, Messi’s father and agent originally opted to publicly speak out and re-shared a report of Messi’ impending exit with the simple caption: ‘Lie.’
The latest developments will come as a hammer blow to returning president Joan Laporta
Barca had been banking on their talisman and club legend committing the remainder of his career to the Nou Camp, though have been hindered for weeks by their dire financial situation.
The forward was set to take a 50 per cent pay deduction from his previous deal, which was worth in excess of £425million over four years, in order for Barca to be able to re-register him with La Liga.
This would have meant that Messi’s earnings would have been slashed by £250,000 every week on the proposed new five-year contract.
Reports in Spain further state that a meeting over food took place on Thursday between Barca’s hierarchy and Messi’s father, along with other representatives.
It is said that this meeting did not reach a positive resolution, and has blown the whole situation wide open.
Messi’s father has since appeared to acknowledge that while some difficult obstacles have arisen in the negotiation process, talks remain ongoing.
Messi returned to Barcelona on Thursday following a holiday with his wife and children
Messi has been heavily linked with both Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain, and the shock developments come just days after the superstar met up with his former team-mate and close friend Neymar.
Neymar left Barca for PSG in 2017, and has spoke frequently about his desire to play with the Argentine again one day.
On Wednesday Neymar uploaded an image to social media, showing himself with Messi along with PSG trio Angel Di Maria, Leo Parades and Marco Veratti, with the caption: ‘amigos.’
The image has now sent the rumour mill into overdrive, with many fans believing Messi has been talked around by the PSG quartet into swapping Catalonia for Paris.
Given his contract at the Nou Camp has officially expired, Barca will be powerless to stop Messi joining a major European rival this summer.