Barcelona fans 'devastated' at Lionel Messi exit, one files legal complaint against PSG

Player was still at his home in Catalunya on Monday ahead of proposed move to France

Desperate Barcelona fans gathered outside Lionel Messi's home on Monday hoping to catch a final glimpse of their hero before his impending transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

One Barca member filed complaints with a French court and with the European Commission to try to block any move by PSG to sign Messi, according to documents seen by Reuters on Monday, accusing the French club of breaking Financial Fair Play rules.

Argentine Messi bade a tearful farewell on Sunday to the club he has spent his entire career at and confirmed that he was in talks with the Parisians over a possible move that would reunite him with former Barca teammate Neymar and join up with French superstar Kylian Mbappe in one of the most fabled frontlines of all time.

There were no signs of any imminent exit from the player's house in the hills of the wealthy Barcelona district of Castelldefels on Monday, however.

Messi was glimpsed in the afternoon in swimming trunks.

"He's clearly still here, looking very relaxed indeed," Sky Sports News reporter Gary Cotterill reported in a live update from outside the house.

Outside, Barcelona fans were still coming to terms with the news that their record goalscorer would continue his extraordinary career elsewhere.

"I feel devastated," said Cristian Garcia, wearing a Barca shirt with Messi's name and number 10 on the back.

"To see a player that I have always followed, who is an example for me, to see him leave now brings me a lot of pain."

Messi said he had done all he could to remain at Barca, agreeing a 50 per cent pay cut to continue his two-decade stint at Camp Nou. Barca were unable to finalise the deal due to the Spanish league's financial control rules and the club's debts, which total more than $1.2 billion.

La Liga said last Wednesday it had agreed to sell a 10 per cent stake for €2.7 billion ($3.21bn) to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, with the funds to be shared among the clubs.

The injection of funds could have helped Barca secure Messi's future, but the Catalans followed Real Madrid's suit in rejecting the deal, with Barca president Joan Laporta saying the deal amounted to a "50-year mortgage" on the club's television rights.

"I don't think the club has done enough to make him stay, I think it was in the club's hands to make him stay, beyond the money," said Barca and Argentina fan Gonzalo Moreno.

Messi said on Sunday that PSG was "a possibility" but that he had not yet signed any deal.

The 34-year-old, widely considered the most gifted player in the history of the game, won 35 trophies at Barcelona, who he joined as a 13-year-old - including four Champions Leagues and 10 league titles while his 672 goals are a record for any of the top five European leagues.

Legal complaint

In the Barcelona member's legal complaints, shared by the fan's lawyer, the member claims that French football authorities have failed to enforce their own financial fair play (FFP) rules in order to help PSG become a force in European football.

Barcelona, like their main La Liga rivals Real Madrid, are fully owned by their subscription-paying members known as "socios".

The FFP rules notably forbid top European clubs to pay their playing squads an excessive share of their total revenues, according to the complaints, which also state that the transfer of Messi to PSG would breach the code.

On Sunday night, dozens of PSG diehards gathered at the gates of Le Bourget airport to the north of the capital in the hope of catching a glimpse of their newest superstar. However, their wait was in vain as Messi remained in Spain at least for most of Monday.

"We're waiting for a legend, the legend that is Leo Messi," said PSG fan Mehmet Sen, who had been waiting at the gates since 2am for a glimpse of the star.

The bad news kept coming for Barcelona on Monday after the club confirmed new signing Sergio Aguero has been ruled out for 10 weeks with a calf injury.

Barca said tests on the Argentine forward have confirmed a tendon injury.

Aguero, 33, joined Barcelona from Manchester City on a two-year contract in June. He spent 10 years at City, during which time he became the club's all-time leading goalscorer with 260 goals in 390 games.

Aguero won the Copa America this year with Argentina, alongside Messi, though the prospect of Aguero lining up alongside his countrymen in Barcelona colours appears a non-starter.

Updated: August 10th 2021, 11:19 AM
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