Lionel Messi has confirmed Paris St Germain could be his next destination after bidding a tearful goodbye to Barcelona.
The 34-year-old Argentina international received a standing ovation from family and friends, current and former team-mates and journalists during a farewell press conference at the Nou Camp on Sunday three days after the club announced his impending departure.
An emotional Messi, who has since been heavily linked with both the Ligue 1 giants PSG and Manchester City, gave a brief address before answering questions over the aborted contract negotiations which led to his exit after 21 years. Barca blamed LaLiga’s financial fair play rules for their inability to strike a deal.
Asked about PSG’s interest, he said: “That’s honestly one possibility, to reach those heights. At the minute, I’ve got nothing confirmed with anybody.
“When the press release was published, I had a lot of calls, a lot of clubs were interested.
“At the minute, I’ve not got anything closed, but we are talking about a lot of things.”
Whatever lies ahead for the six-times Ballon d’Or winner, who joined Barca as a 13-year-old and leaves having played his part in the capture of 35 trophies, he admitted his “blood ran cold” when it emerged that he was not going to be able to stay after feeling he and president Joan Laporta were close to reaching agreement.
Messi, who also confirmed he had offered to take a 50 per cent pay cut to continue a period of service which brought 672 goals in 778 appearances, said: “This is what Laporta said right up until the last minute, and because of everything with the league, it suddenly couldn’t happen.
“There’s nothing more to tell. Anything else, I can’t say. What’s clear is that I did everything possible; the club, Laporta, they couldn’t do it because of LaLiga.
“I’ve heard a lot of things said about me, that I didn’t want to continue, but on my behalf, we did everything we could because I wanted to stay.”
Messi’s Barca career has drawn to a close 12 months after he had asked to leave, but was prevented from doing so by a 700million Euros release clause – around £629million – in his contract.
Asked about his feelings, he replied: “I’m very sad because I didn’t want to leave this club. It’s the club that I love. It’s a moment that I didn’t expect.
“I’ve never lied, I’ve always been honest and up front. Last year I wanted to leave; this year, I didn’t and that’s why I’m so sad.
“I have been here so many years, my entire life here since I was 13. After 21 years, I’m leaving with my wife, with my three little Catalan-Argentine kids.
“We’ve lived in this city and I can’t say that in a few years we won’t come back because this is our home, and I promise my children that.”
Whether or not Messi’s immediate future lies in Paris, his illustrious career will now enter a new phase and he is not yet ready to rest on his laurels.
He said: “I’ve still not quite come to terms with the reality of being in this position and leaving this club and changing my life completely.
“But I know that we are going to be OK. It will be a difficult change, but we need to accept it, we need to take it on and move forward.”