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Soccer superstar Lionel Messi leaving FC Barcelona, the only club he’s ever known

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Soccer superstar Lionel Messi leaving FC Barcelona, the only club he's ever known 2

Soccer icon Lionel Messi, who has spent his entire club career with FC Barcelona, will not return to the storied La Liga side, the team announced Thursday.

“Despite club and player reaching an agreement and their clear intention to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles,” the club said in a brief statement.

The 34-year-old has been with FC Barcelona for 17 seasons in a stretch that’s seen it win 10 La Liga titles.

He’s won the men’s Ballon d’Or, the award honoring the world’s greatest soccer player, a record six times.

Despite his advancing age, Messi remains a highly productive player in one of the world’s most elite leagues, scoring 30 goals in 30 matches this past season.

And with one of the world’s greatest players now on the open market, fans of major teams like Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain will surely be pressing the club to shell out as many pounds or euros to score the icon’s services.

Forbes magazine in May pegged Messi as the second highest paid athlete of 2020-21, raking in an estimated $130 million over the previous 12 months.

His Barça, pay, in addition to lucrative endorsement deals with top-name brands such as Adidas and Ginny Hilfiger, sister of Tommy Hilfiger, put Messi high on the athlete rich list. He was only behind UFC fighter and Irish whiskey Proper No. Twelve founder Conor McGregor at $180 million.

About the only shortcoming on Messi’s resume is his relative lack of success on the international stage, playing for his home nation of Argentina.

But even that box was checked off this summer as the Sky Blue and Whites won the Copa America on July 10 with a 1-0 victory over Brazil.

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