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Lionel Messi to Exit Barcelona Club After 17 Years

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Barcelona announced on Thursday that Lionel Messi is leaving the club after “financial and structural obstacles” made it impossible to renew his contract. The footballer, who has spent his whole career with the club, had been expected to re-sign after his deal expired in June.

A statement from the club said; “Despite 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),”

“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.”

“FC 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.”

Last month Messi agreed in principle to a five-year deal on reduced wages rather than a two-year extension initially discussed. It had been hoped the agreement would keep Barcelona within the boundaries of La Liga’s financial fair play regulations but that has proved impossible.

Barcelona needed to move players out to renew Messi’s deal and they have not been able to find the solution. The club, whose total debt is about €1,173m, is constrained by the league’s salary cap. Messi has agreed to a 50 percent pay cut, dropping from about €45m basic, after-tax, to closer to €20m.

The question is where Messi, who was 34 in June, will play next season. He tried to leave Barcelona in August 2020 after a breakdown in his relationship with then president Josep Maria Bartomeu but was forced to stay. Now, when he was keen to continue for longer, it appears he is being made to go.

Messi has made 778 appearances for Barcelona, scoring a remarkable 672 goals which have helped to claim 10 league titles, four Champions Leagues and three Club World Cups among his haul of 35 trophies

This latest development comes just eight days before the La Liga 2021/22 season kicks off.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta held a press conference after the club released a statement saying that could not sign Messi to a new contract due to La Liga rules over the size of the salary.

“We are over the salary limit that we are allowed. It is as simple as that,” Laporta confirmed.

The president said that Messi was told two days ago that the club could not continue with his new contract, which they planned to be for two years and they asked to spread the cost of that contract over five years.

Barcelona’s president said “I like to dream, but we have to live in the reality” when asked if Messi could play for Barcelona again if Financial Fair Play rules are relaxed by La Liga.

Laporta insisted that Messi and the club reached an agreement on a new contract but Spanish league rules won’t allow him to sign due to the financial situation the new club president inherited from former president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the mess they were left in.

“We have 122 years of history. We’ve been through everything and we’ve always come through. We want the post-Messi era to be very successful and I am convinced it will be,” Laporta said.

Laporta added that La Liga could be more flexible to make Messi’s new deal happen, as he repeatedly slammed their planned deal to sell 10 percent of the league to CVC Capital Partners from the USA.

“In the Spanish La Liga we have to abide by the rules. We think they can be more flexible. That is not an excuse, we knew the rules. We can’t abide by it. Leo deserves everything. He loves Barca. I’m sad but I’m convinced we’ve done best for FC Barcelona,” Laporta insisted.

“I can’t make a decision that will impact the club for the next 50 years,” Laporta added about the La Liga deal over the TV rights. “The club is over 100 years old and it is above everyone and everything. Even above the best player in the world. We will always thank him for everything he has done for us.”

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NFF, Premier Lotto Sign $972,053 Partnership Agreement

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has signed a N400 million deal, about $972,053 with Premier Lotto also known as Baba Ijebu, the latest in the past couple of weeks.

President of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick stated this on Monday when he featured on ARISE News’ The Morning Show. The partnership will run for an initial renewable three years.

Mr. Pinnick said the deals have been made possible because of the integrity posture of Nigeria football. He had also led the federation in sealing deals with the leading airline, Air Peace as the Official Airline of Nigerian National Teams, and with MTN as the Official Communications Partner of the Super Eagles and the National Teams.

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Lionel Messi Join Paris Saint-Germain On A Two-Year Contract After Leaving Barcelona

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The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is traveling to Paris on Tuesday afternoon to seal his move to the French club on a deal worth £25m per year after tax, plus bonuses.

Messi had two other options after leaving Barcelona last week but has opted to move to PSG, who will have the option of extending his stay in the French capital by the third year

Lionel Messi to sign a two-year deal worth £25m per year after tax with PSG; 34-year-old will have the option to extend the deal by a third-year and will receive a £25m signing-on fee; Messi was set to sign a new five-year contract at Barcelona but the club was unable to complete the deal

Messi was set to extend his 21-year stay at Barcelona by signing a new five-year deal this summer.

However, the club announced on Thursday that “financial and structural obstacles” meant the deal could not be completed, meaning Messi left as a free agent.

The 34-year-old said he wanted to stay at Barcelona and “did everything” he could to remain at the club, including agreeing to a 50-per-cent wage cut.

However, Barcelona is hamstrung by La Liga’s rules on club spending and even halving Messi’s pay was not enough to ensure he remained at the Nou Camp.

Messi is now set to join PSG, with their potential to compete for major trophies – including the Champions League – understood to be a key factor in his decision to move to France.

Messi is also believed to be keen to reunite with Neymar, with whom he won two La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys and the Champions League during their time together at Barcelona.

Asked about a move to PSG at his farewell press conference last weekend, Messi said: “That is one possibility, to reach those heights.

“I had a lot of calls, a lot of interested clubs. At the moment, nothing is closed, but we are talking about a lot of things.”

Messi said he did not want to leave Barcelona in an emotional farewell news conference on Sunday.

Messi was in tears as he received a standing ovation in his final Barcelona press conference to announce the end of his 21 years with the club.

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PUMA Terminates 4 Year Contract Worth $2.7M With Athletics Federation Of Nigeria

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Puma, the sportswear manufacturing giant, on Wednesday, August 4, 2021, officially terminated its sponsorship contract with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).

This development comes amidst embezzlement allegations trailing some officials of the sports body.

The German company disclosed this in a statement addressed to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria.

“We are referring to the Sponsoring & Licensing Agreement (the “Agreement”) signed between our Company and your Federation.

“As a direct consequence of the recent developments, particularly at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, and pursuant to Clauses 9.2 and 7.3 of the Agreement, we hereby terminate the Agreement with immediate effect,” Peoples Gazatte quoted the statement to have read in part.

“PUMA especially declares to be discharged from any or all obligations towards all stakeholders involved and reserves all rights against these entities and individuals”.

The cancellation follows the embarrassing scandal that has pitched the AFN officials against Nigeria’s ministry of Youth and Sports due to the $2.7 million kits sponsorship.

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria under the leadership of Engr Ibrahim Gusau signed a 4-year contract with PUMA in 2019 and was due to expire in 2022.

Part of the contract is that PUMA will supply kits to all age categories to Nigeria’s Athletics team for four years at no cost.

In addition, gold medalists at the Olympic Games will earn $15,000, silver medalists will get 5,000 while a bronze medal gets $3,000, and also will fetch athletes wearing the PUMA apparel at the games. This means Ese Brume would have gotten an additional $3000 for winning bronze wearing PUMA kit if the deal was still on.

The termination of the deal comes amidst an alleged leadership tussle between the Ibrahim Gusau-led AFN board and that headed by the Minister for Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare.

The minister is said to have vowed that the Nigerian Athletes will not wear the PUMA kits, stating that the contract is “a subject of a criminal investigation”.

Last year, the Department of State Services cleared Gusau and his vice president Sunday Adeleye over corruption allegations leveled against him by the sports ministry.

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