Barcelona, in a statement on Thursday evening, announced the departure of its iconic legend Lionel Messi.
Here are 15 things to know about Messi:
1. He is currently a free agent.
2. He was born and raised in central Argentina but relocated to Spain to join Barcelona at 13 and made his competitive debut at 17 in October 2004.
3. He is often considered the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.
4. Messi has won six Ballon d’Or awards and six European Golden Shoes
5. He has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won a club-record 34 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles and four UEFA Champions Leagues.
6. Messi holds the records for most goals in La Liga (474), La Liga and European league season (50), most hat-tricks in La Liga (36) and the UEFA Champions League (8), and most assists in La Liga (192), a La Liga and European league season (21) and the Copa América (17).
7. He has scored over 750 senior career goals for club and country and has the most goals ever by a player for a single club.
8. He won his first Ballon d’Or at 22.
9. His style of play as a diminutive, left-footed dribbler drew comparisons with his compatriot Diego Maradona, who described Messi as his successor.
10. Messi became the youngest Argentine to play and score in a FIFA World Cup in 2006.
11. As the squad’s captain from August 2011, he led Argentina to three consecutive finals: the 2014 FIFA World Cup
12. He won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, finishing the tournament with both the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe.
13. In February 2020, he was awarded the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, thus becoming the first footballer and the first team sport athlete to win the award.
14. Messi was among Time’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 and 2012 and was ranked the world’s highest-paid athlete by Forbes in 2019
15. In 2019, Messi became the second footballer (and second team-sport athlete) to surpass $1 billion in career earnings.