‘No player in the history of the sport has given so much joy, so much success to one club’: Gary Lineker leads the tributes to Lionel Messi following his emotional goodbye to Barcelona after an incredible 21 years
Lionel Messi’s emotional farewell to his beloved Barcelona following his astonishing 21-year trophy-laden career with the club grabbed the attention of football fans worldwide on Sunday.
Messi’s departure from the Nou Camp has sent shockwaves throughout the world of football after the Spanish giants – in crisis mode amid a financial nightmare – failed to extend his stay after his deal expired at the start of last month.
Following his bombshell departure, Messi is now on the brink of signing for Paris Saint-Germain, who have reportedly offered the Argentine a two-year deal worth around £70million.
Lionel Messi was inconsolable as he said his goodbyes to his beloved Barcelona on Sunday
Messi’s departure from Barcelona has sent shockwaves throughout the world of football
And following the confirmation of his shock exit, Messi held a press conference to say his goodbyes to everyone associated with Barcelona – in which he addressed to fans why his 21-year spell has come to a dramatic end.
But the six-time Ballon d’Or winner couldn’t contain his emotions, and was inconsolable – while his family, former and current team-mates and media listened in – as he tried to explain the reasons behind leaving.
And with Messi clearly unsettled by it all, Gary Lineker led the tributes on social media to arguably football’s greatest ever player.
Lineker wrote on Twitter: ‘So sad watching a clearly very emotional Lionel Messi having to say goodbye to @FCBarcelona.
‘No player in the history of the sport has given so much joy, so many unforgettable moments, so much success to one club.’
Many more of football’s biggest names, and fans, flocked to social media to laud the Argentine – who has produced plenty of the most magical moments the sport has ever seen.
Gary Lineker paid tribute to Messi on social media following his emotional press conference
Piers Morgan insisted it will be ‘so hard to imagine Messi’ playing for another team
Former Barcelona and Liverpool forward Luis Garcia said his thank you to Messi on Sunday
Barcelona Women’s player Andrea Falcon also hailed ‘legend’ Messi during his farewell speech
Piers Morgan was another high-profile name to have his say on social media on Sunday – insisting he can’t quite believe Messi will be playing in another club’s colours.
‘Wow. Poor guy looks broken as journalists give him a prolonged standing ovation. So hard to imagine #Messi playing for another team. His heart is #Barca.’
Former Barcelona and Liverpool star Luis Garcia said his thank you to the Argentine star on Twitter too.
He wrote: ‘Thanks Leo !! Can’t say much more. All the best to you and your family in the next chapter of your career.’
Barcelona Women’s player Andrea Falcon also admitted her immense ‘pride’ to have worn the same colours as Messi.
Falcon, alongside a picture of the pair wearing their Barcelona colours, said: ‘You are a legend for this club and it is a pride to have defended the same colours as you. You have made us enjoy and you are and will always be a reference! Thanks, Leo.’
The Argentine is on the brink of joining French giants Paris Saint-Germain this summer now
Speaking out over his exit, Messi – who received a lengthy standing ovation from those in attendance – said he did everything he could to extend his illustrious stay with Barca having initially tied him down to a five-year deal agreed on a 50% pay cut.
‘Honestly, when the elections happened (in March), I spoke with (club president Joan) Laporta, we had dinner and after that I was convinced I would be staying,’ he said.
‘My contract was never the issue … What I know is that I did everything I could. The club say it could not happen because of La Liga.
‘I can guarantee you that I did everything I could to stay. Last year I didn’t want to and I said that, but this year it was different.’
Messi has won it all for Barcelona, and bagged an astonishing 672 goals in 778 appearances
Messi goes down as Barcelona’s greatest ever player, and his exit will leave a massive void