There was only one topic of conversation around the breakfast table in Spain this morning

Credit: Marca newspaper/-

News outlets from across Europe have reacted to the incredible news that Lionel Messi will be leaving Barcelona as a free agent. Both sides claimed they had a deal in place that they were happy with, but that Messi was prevented from signing the contract over "league regulations".

The agreed deal reportedly did not pass La Liga’s financial regulations, and the club released a statement on Thursday night declaring that the Argentina forward had left.  

“FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations),” read Barca’s statement.

“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled. Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life.”

Newspapers in France and Spain reacted with both shock and horror at the news, with Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo plastering Messi’s image under the headline ‘Bombshell! Messi is gone!’

🗞 Esta es nuestra #portada de hoy

— Mundo Deportivo (@mundodeportivo) August 5, 2021

Meanwhile Marca, the sports daily known for its vocal support of Barcelona’s bitter rivals Real Madrid, claimed in their headline ‘Barca let Messi escape’

#LaPortada 🗞

🥇 ¡Qué subidón!

💣 El Barça deja escapar a Messi

— MARCA (@marca) August 5, 2021

And AS, the sports daily that competes directly with Marca, ran a front page comprised of Messi’s picture and a headline of ‘He will not renew’. They laid the blame for the collapse squarely at the feet of La Liga, as did the club.

🌛 ¡Buenas noches!

📰 Aquí tienes nuestra #PortadAS del viernes 6 de agosto

📝 “No seguirá”

— Diario AS (@diarioas) August 5, 2021

elPeriodico went with the one word headline – ‘Incredible!’ – coupled with a poignant photo of Messi walking away from the camera.


غير معقول ❗️

— InCampNou (@InCampNou) August 5, 2021

Meanwhile, in France, there was a mixture of shock and intrigue at the news. 

Paris Saint-Germain are considered the current favourites to sign the greatest player of all time, along with Manchester City, and the French papers appear titillated by the prospect.

Sports daily L’Equipe described events as ‘The Twist’, with a simple headline of ‘Messi quits Barcelona’.

Le FC Barcelone a officialisé ce jeudi la fin de l’aventure de Lionel Messi au sein du club catalan.

« Lionel Messi ne restera pas lié au FC Barcelone », annonce le club dans un communiqué > #Messi

— L’ÉQUIPE (@lequipe) August 5, 2021

However, in their reporting, L’Equipe were keen to stress that a deal between Messi and the Qatari-backed Parisians was some way off. The paper, known to have close connections with the PSG hierarchy, said the club were "wary" about "being used" and that his arrival is considered "’not realistic’ internally".

"The temptation is there, necessarily, but they remain measured from the beginning," the paper says.

There is also belief that the main priority at the Parc des Princes is extending the contract of wonderkid Kylian Mbappe: "The absolute priority is today to extend Mbappé (22 years old) rather than launch to the assault of Messi (34 years old)," the paper reports. 

"[The club have] an ambivalent attitude summed up by these words of Nasser al-Khelaifi, asked about the issue in early June: "What I can tell you is that all the great players want to come to PSG. All-to make things clear, I’m not saying that to answer you about Messi. It is not possible to bring them all, especially since we already have great players too.""

Meanwhile, Le Figaro referred to the announcement as a ‘Cup of Thunder’, taking a break from its Olympics coverage to report that Messi would "consider" a move to the French capital. However, unlike the Spanish papers, no French outlet chose to put Messi on their front page, or even the front of the sports pages.

Le Figaro described the news as 'The Twist', but parked the story on page 10, inside its sports section

Credit: Le Figaro/-