Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi opens up on 'extremely difficult' Barcelona exit

Max Cooper
Messi left Barcelona on a free transfer
Messi left Barcelona on a free transfer / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

Lionel Messi has confessed that he did not expect to leave Barcelona this summer, and the announcement that the club couldn't afford to offer him a new contract 'shook up his plans' of ending his career at Camp Nou.

La Blaugrana's financial mismanagement meant that they were forced to offload a number of high profile stars in a desperate attempt to balance the books over the summer. Even with their efforts and reduced wage bill, they were unable to accommodate their captain's salary, leaving him with no option other than to leave on a free transfer.

Messi eventually moved to French giants Paris Saint-Germain, but he has admitted to France Football that he had been expecting to end his career with Barça, and news of their dire financial situation which left him without a home 'shook up his plans'.

"I didn't expect it at all," Messi said. "In my head, I was going to go [back to Barcelona], sign and start training straight away.

"I thought that everything was set and I just needed to sign it. But when I got there, they told me that it wasn't possible anymore. They told me that I couldn't stay and that I'd have to find a new club because they couldn't renew my contract. It changed my plans.

"It was extremely difficult to accept. To think that we were going to have to leave our home, the family were going to have their routines turned upside down, the kids were going to have to change schools and come with us to a completely new place.

"It was the first time that this had happened in my career. I had decided that I was going to end my career with Barcelona. It was difficult, but we passed the test together. A lot of things went through my mind, but I had no choice but to leave."

The Argentine gave an emotional farewell speech upon leaving the club, before jetting off to Paris, where he has now become the focal point of a star-studded PSG side. He stated that he did receive 'other offers' over the summer, and although he didn't specify from which clubs, the forward insisted that he decided to join Les Parisiens 'quickly'.

"PSG offered me the chance to join," Messi said. "I had other offers, but I have to admit that it was a pretty quick agreement with PSG. It wasn't easy because everything had to be done quickly, practically overnight.

"I was seduced by the project, the club's ambitions, the players they had, the group. All of those things made it easier to reach an agreement. That [having friends at the club in Neymar and Angel Di Maria] was important, because I knew I was going to a new country and I had to start from scratch.

Lionel Messi, Leo Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar Jr
Friends on and off the pitch / John Berry/GettyImages

"I knew I had friends in the dressing room, which made it easier to adapt. At the Copa America they kept asking me if I was going to join them, but always in jest, because they knew I wanted to stay at Barcelona. So, for them, it was a surprise when I said I was going to PSG."

Messi scored his first goal for PSG in their 2-0 victory over Manchester City in the Champions League, but he is yet to open his account in Ligue 1.