Tottenham’s £47m Cristian Romero transfer ‘key’ to Lionel Messi’s Barcelona contract exit

Lionel Messi: Possible PSG move discussed by Julien Laurens

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Barcelona’s failure to sign Atalanta defender Cristian Romero ahead of Tottenham played a key role in shaping Lionel Messi’s shock departure on Thursday evening, according to reports. The mercurial Argentine forward has left the Catalan giants despite agreeing a new five-year contract with the club, who were unable to follow through on the deal.

Messi was expected to put pen to paper on Thursday, but Barcelona were ultimately forced to let their prized asset leave as a result of their precarious financial situation.

They blamed La Liga regulations in an official statement, with the forward still unattached ahead of the new season.

The 34-year-old will now be forced to seek a fresh challenge after a glittering career with Barcelona, the club he joined as a 13-year-old back in 2000.

Although Barca’s financial difficulties eventually proved to be the final nail in the coffin, their summer transfer dealings also reportedly played a role in shaping Messi’s surprise exit.

Ronald Koeman’s side have already welcomed Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal through the door since the beginning of the window.

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However, their inability to sign Romero did not rest well with Messi and was a factor in his departure, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The report claims that Messi specifically asked the club to pursue a move for Atalanta’s prized asset, who is poised to join Tottenham in the coming days.

Spurs have agreed a fee in the region of £47million with Atalanta and parent club Juventus to see Romero become their third signing of the summer.

It is said that Barcelona tried to land the 23-year-old earlier in the window, but it quickly became apparent that a deal would be impossible to engineer due to the financial challenges involved.

Romero was due to fly into London on Thursday evening to thrash out the formalities of his impending move to Tottenham after completing a medical in Italy.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen where Messi will end up over the coming weeks and months, with Paris Saint-Germain said to be weighing up an approach for his services.

The six-time Ballon D’Or winner has also been linked with Inter Miami after spending much of his summer holiday in Florida with his family.

Manchester City have previously been interested in signing Messi, who excelled under Pep Guardiola during the 50-year-old’s spell in charge of Barcelona.

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However, the newly-crowned Premier League champions are not expected to push for a move this summer after completing the £100m signing of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa.

Messi tried to find a way out of Barcelona a year ago in the belief that a contractual clause would allow him to depart on a free transfer.

Then-club president Josep Maria Bartomeu firmly rejected the player’s request and declared that he would not be allowed to leave for anything less than his £624m release clause.

Bartomeu’s successor, Joan Laporta, identified Messi’s contract renewal as an overwhelming priority after taking the role in March but has been unable to deliver on what was a key promise during his electoral campaign.

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