This is day some of us thought would never come, but the Argentine will now be leaving the Nou Camp after being there for his entire career up to now.
Here’s the transcript in full…
What was your best moment at Barcelona?
“It’s difficult to choose just one moment. But maybe the time I made my debut. That was my dream come true.
“Everything that came later was amazing but I’ll always remember that moment that everything started.”
Did you think you would renew your contract?
“It’s everything that Laporta said.
“We had everything agreed but, at the last minute, it couldn’t happen [Messi staying at Barcelona]. I’ve heard lots of things being said about me, this year I wanted to stay and I couldn’t. Last year I didn’t want to stay, and I said it.
“This year I wanted to stay. I did everything possible but the club couldn’t do it because of La Liga.
“We have to take it and move forward.”
Do you think Barcelona did everything to keep you?
“I don’t know, what I have very clear is that I did everything I could.
“From my side, I did everything to stay, that is what I wanted”
What is the hardest for you?
“Many things get in my head and I am a bit blocked. Till today I has not sunk in yet.
“I have been 16 years in the fist team and to start from scratch is hard for me and my family specially. We will adapt to what comes next. We all have to accept it”
PSG for you next?
“It is a possibility, but I have not agreed anything with anyone. I got different clubs interested. And nothing is definitive but clearly we are talking to them”
What is your legacy for the club?
“I grew with values of this club and I wanted to be recognised that way.
“But in fact people can remember me whatever way they choose. Titles and also defeats made us grew, we had more happy moments than unhappy”
Is this the hardest moment of your career?
“No doubt, this is the hardest moment. We got hurtful defeats but football give you a chance to revenge that. But there is no turning point to this”
“I feel very sad now as I have to leave a club that I love. I did not expect this. I always told the truth. Last year I wanted to leave, this year I did not want to leave”
How do you imagine this Barcelona without you?
“The squad is great, other players will arrive, players come and go, the club is more important than anyone as Laporta said.
“People will get used to it. It might be strange at start but they will get used to it
“the reality is that after elections, I went for lunch with new president and we spoke and after that meal I was convinced that I was going to stay and there would be no problem to do so.
“My contract was never a problem. But it was not possible”
Would you return to have a homage with fans?
“Of course. It will not be the same. The moment was now, but for this club I am willing to do anything. We will do something”
Do you think there were false expectations in the last few weeks?
“Not really, it was all agreed. From our side we were honest. It has not happened for the reasons we know”
What could you say to (La Liga president) Javier Tebas, who says he has done all possible for you to stay?
“I know we couldn’t agree because of La Liga, the club debt and the club did not want grew the debt.
“I have nothing to say to him, I have no problem with him”
“When I heard about it it was like a cold shower. it was hard to hear it. We are still getting used to it in whatever way we can. When I leave here today it will be even harder.
“But my people will be close and I will continue playing football. When it all starts it’ll feel better.”
Xavi and Iniesta went very far to keep playing. You might have to face Barcelona, how do you feel?
“People know me, they know I am competitive, I want to keep winning.
“My last years I want to fight for titles. Congratulations to Dani Alves, I want more title than him, I am near and will keep at it.”
You took photos with PSG players in Ibiza?
“Pure coincidence. I was going to meet Paredes and Di Maria. Ney called me, come over. And I said, I am with Paredes and Di Maria.
“Come over all of you, Ney said. We took photo, they kept telling me, come over to PSG and we joked, that was all”
Did you consider doing a crazy thing to stay?
“I did everything to stay. I cant add anything else (Do you feel with the new players, the young stairs you could have won lots too) I would have liked to win another CL, that semi with Liverpool, the one vs Chelsea … but this happens.
“I want to win another CL”
Could you have reduced your wages so it will all fit in or that was impossible?
“I reduced my wages 50% and we agreed, and nobody asked me to reduce it any further.”
Have you felt anybody lied to you?
“We all tried our best and it was not possible. I was always honest to the fans and never lied.
“When one does not talk a lot, people says a lot of things on my behalf, but there are lot of lies told.”