the inside track on PSG-bound star's Nou Camp exit

Now we know that Barcelona has seen the day they never imagined.After over 20 years of playing 778 games and 672 goals, Lionel Messi left Barcelona. He also won 35 trophies, including 10 La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.As he was packing his bags to leave for Paris St-Germain to start a new life, rumors were circulating in Catalan that Barcelona were close to making a last-ditch deal to keep him at the club. Sources close to both parties quickly denied the rumours. It wasn't going to happen.Rumours started in hopes than expectation by a Catalan media outlet. Perhaps they were unable to accept the reality that this Barcelona will no longer be Messi. Imagine Messi's feelings if they refuse to accept it.We should begin with the very emotional press conference in which Messi announced that he was leaving Barcelona to help us understand his feelings.It was a stark contrast to the warm greeting that Messi extended to Joan Laporta, Barcelona's newly elected president, at the end. This was a stark contrast to the affection displayed by the player in their meeting at the Nou Camp shortly following Laporta's election.The Argentine star's strength has never been his ability to disguise his body language, on or off the pitch.The long-winded and complicated 'will he leave or will he return?' debate has been a long one. Laporta, despite the long and drawn out 'will he stay or will he go?' drama in Barcelona, has been unfailingly optimistic. He always maintained that Messi and he were very close and had a great relationship. Things were also going well.All the messages I received from the Messi side were similar, optimistic that a deal might be possible. They insisted that they were more cautious than the president.Laporta insists that he would be able convince Messi to stay, right from the beginning of his campaign. He just needed to have a "barbecue" with him.What did he know about financial fair play that other candidates didn’t? He knows the same things he did back then about financial fair play regulations and the limitations that the club must operate within. Nothing has changed.He didn't realize the magnitude of the problem that he and his club were facing.Lionel Messi spent his entire career at Barcelona...until nowHe was shocked at the extent of the debt when he first came to power. He was expecting to see a total of 200m euros in debt by the end of last season, but instead it has risen to 500m.He also owes his presidency to the people who paid 15% as a guarantee to the budget. This was an obligation by the new directors to confirm that the new regime is in place. These forces now control a club that was supposedly owned season-ticket holders. They don't want Messi to be retained and they are not willing to continue with the massive debt.Messi was relieved to discover that Laporta had a way of ensuring that he would stay at the club a month and a quarter ago.Barcelona ended up with two contracts: one for two years and one for five. Both parties reached an agreement for five years, which was approved by La Liga.At this point things get really, really, if you can pardon the pun, a little, well, "messy".Javier Tebas, La Liga boss, and Laporta met a few days later. Tebas told him that they could approve the Messi deal, but that it might require the assistance of CVC. CVC has recently reached a deal that would inject 2.7 billion euros (2.3bn), into La Liga, in return for a little more than 10% of most of its business. With 90% of the injection going directly to clubs,Real Madrid and Barcelona voted against the idea. A deal would have brought money into Barcelona and 15% could have gone towards the wage bill.Laporta was aware that Barcelona would have to keep Messi, and he expressed his excitement for the deal when he met Tebas), but Ferran Reverter, Barcelona's new chief executive convinced him that this would not be in the club's best interests.Things got worse when Reverter, who has not forgotten that the club is now under the control of the financial forces mentioned earlier, hit Laporta with numbers that likely made the president's blood boil. The wage bill for Messi's last season was 110% of his income. Without them, it was 95%.Simply put, everything became impossible.Photos of Lionel Messi being taken down at Nou CampThe most concerning aspect of the whole situation, according to many, isn't the fact that Laporta decided not to give Messi a contract, but the manner in which Messi was told about it by his father.Laporta said that he made the decision not to offer a contract to Messi on Tuesday. This was two days after he had told Jorge Messi that their Barcelona story was finished. There are now more signs that this decision was made even earlier.Laporta blamed La Liga for its inflexibility and maintained that the CVC investment plan was not in Barcelona’s best interests.However, what really upset people and led to Jaume Llopis' resignation is the belief that Barcelona have not done enough for him. It's safe to assume that Messi and his team are 100% in agreement with this sentiment.Llopis stated Monday that he didn't want to create such a disturbance in an interview with Cadena Ser radio station. To be able say what Barcelona fans want and need - transparency, which has been lacking - I resigned. Leo himself said it: "They didn't accomplish everything that was possible."Perhaps the most shocking revelation is that Laporta, along with Florentino Perez of Real Madrid and Andrea Agnelli of Juventus, were seen in top Barcelona restaurants on the day of Messi's announcement. These are the two most vocal supporters of the controversial European Super League.Llopis was scathing and said that "Nobody can comprehend that while barcelonistas cry about Leo's departure, Laporta is enjoying fish supper at Real Madrid's president." This doesn't paint an enviable picture.Barcelona's financial wisdom is understandable in their circumstances. But from Messi's perspective, he went on vacation confident that everything would be resolved. He returned home convinced that all that was missing, was his signature.Messi was devastated and feels betrayed once more by the club he gave so much to. Barcelona asked Messi to accept a reduction of 50% in his wages. He accepted it without trying to negotiate.A 50% reduction is actually the maximum legal limit anyone can be forced to accept, so even Messi was willing to accept a larger reduction, the club would have violated the law if they had agreed to it.He felt great after a Copa America win with Argentina. His plan was to keep his top-level soccer career going for two more years. At 36, he would have been 36. He planned to end his playing career in Major League Soccer in America, possibly with Cesc Fabregas or at David Beckham's Inter Miami.Although it is true that he did meet with his ex-Barca teammate Neymar and Argentina team-mates Angel di Maria, Leandro Paredes and Marco Verratti, he was still certain that he would sign for Barcelona upon his return.Messi had been close to leaving the club in the past. In 2014, days before Tito Vilanova died from cancer, Messi was persuaded by his former coach to resist the temptations of PSG. Vilanova said to him, "You won’t be as happy anywhere else as you are here." Messi listened.Two years later, feeling unfairly harassed and harassed at work by the Inland Revenue he declared that he wanted leave Spain. He was again talked about.After the humiliation of Bayern Munich 8-2, Messi tried to fulfill a promise made by Bartomeu to him that he would be able to leave at the end, but the board reneged on the promise by claiming Messi hadn't made his request in the right time. Messi explained the situation in a disarmingly simple way. He said, "I was lied too."Messi has been there before. In 2000, six months after his arrival in Barcelona, Messi, then 13, sat down together with his siblings, his two brothers, and his parents to make the most important decision in his young life.Messi informed them that he would stay. The repercussions would eventually lead to the family's disintegration. His siblings and brother returned to Rosario with their mothers, while Jorge stayed in Barcelona with his son.He is a proud husband and father of three sons. He discussed the matter with Antonella, his soul mate, and his children last year, whether or not to move.Messi was raised in Rosario, surrounded by dust-blown, glass-strewn "canchos". But it is Barcelona where his three sons Thiago (born 2012), Mateo (2015) and Ciro (2018) now call home.There were tears back then, and there are still tears now. Messi promised his family that the move would only be temporary and that they would all return to Barcelona.Their future is in Paris, however.