Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi opens up on his departure from Barcelona

Tom Gott
Lionel Messi says goodbye to Barcelona
Lionel Messi says goodbye to Barcelona / Eric Alonso/Getty Images

A visibly distraught Lionel Messi said his goodbyes to Barcelona on Sunday, insisting he did everything to stay at Camp Nou and was still struggling to come to terms with what has happened.

Messi saw his contract expire this summer and agreed on the terms of a five-year extension, only for Barcelona to eventually pull the plug and admit they could not confirm with La Liga's financial rules if they renewed his contract.

Emotions were running high during Messi's farewell press conference, and here's what he had to say.

On leaving the club

Lionel Messi
Messi was in tears before even speaking / Eric Alonso/Getty Images

"The truth is, I don't know what to say here. These recent days, I've been giving lots of thought to what I could say, and the truth is that I can't think of anything. This is really difficult for me, after so many years, being here my entire life. I'm not ready for this.

"Last year, with the nonsense with the burofax and everything, I knew what I wanted to say. This year, it isn't the same. My family and I were convinced I would stay, but today, I have to say goodbye to all of this.

"I'm really grateful for everything this club have me. There are so many people to thank. I've been so humbled to have had so much respect, and I want to say thank you to everybody as they helped me to grow and improve, and they made me the person I am today.

"I gave everything for this club from the first day until the last, but the reality is I'm leaving. I never imagined having to say goodbye. I never imagined doing it in this way. I thought there would be people in the crowd giving me one last cheer. I leave the club now without having seen the fans for over 18 months. I wanted Camp Nou to be full so I could say goodbye properly."

On when he knew things were going wrong

"Up until the last minute, I thought it was fine. Then everything happened with La Liga and it couldn't happen.

"I know I did everything possible to stay, but the club couldn't do it because of La Liga. I reduced my demands by 50% and they didn't ask me for anything else. I did everything but it wasn't possible. I did everything.

"My blood ran cold when I found out. It was really difficult. I'm still trying to process it all. When I go home, I'll feel bad, probably worse. But my family and I are fine, and I can keep playing football. That's the most important thing. It's difficult but we need to move on.

On potentially joining PSG

Neymar Jr
Neymar wants Messi at PSG / John Berry/Getty Images

"Honestly, that's a possibility at the minute. I've got nothing confirmed with anybody. When the press release was published I had a lot of calls from a lot of interested clubs. At the minute, nothing is closed, but we are talking about a lot of things.

"The people here know me. They know I want to compete. Like I did here, I'll fight to win everything. I'll finish my career in my way, competing and fighting for titles. That's my mentality. It always was here. People know I want to win, and there's no doubt that I will go to a team that could compete with Barcelona. I need to keep competing and winning."

On coming back one day

"I hope that I can come back and be part of this club in some way. I want to bring something to help this club be the best in the world."

On any regrets he has

Lionel Messi
Messi wanted more European glory / VI-Images/Getty Images

"I would have liked to win another Champions League. We were knocked out in the semi-finals by Liverpool and Chelsea. There were times when we could have won again, but that's football for you.

"I don't regret anything. I always gave my best. I think we could have won one more, but I achieved my goals. It's always nice to win more titles, but I'm ending my career here with a good number of trophies anyway."