Last year, Lionel Messi and Barcelona’s relationship had deteriorated to the point that the club legend was ready to leave for Manchester City. The two sides managed to work out those issues and went into Thursday with hopes of signing Messi to a new contract.
The expectation across the soccer world was that Thursday’s proceedings were a formality to keep the 34-year-old at the club for the foreseeable future. But, uh, something happened.
In an announcement that came completely out of nowhere, the official Twitter accounts for FC Barcelona said that it couldn’t sign Messi to the agreed contract because of La Liga’s financial regulations. Barcelona conceded that Messi would leave the club.MORE:
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The bronze medal match of the Summer Olympics Men’s Soccer Tournament will be played Friday morning between Mexico and Japan. Kickoff at Saitama Stadium will be at 5 a.m. ET. Below, we preview the Mexico vs. Japan odds and lines, and make our best Summer Olympics bets, picks and predictions.
Japan lost 1-0 to Spain in the semifinals after getting by New Zealand 4-2 on penalties in the quarterfinals. The host nation won Group A at 3-0 while outscoring the opposition 7-1.
Mexico fell 4-1 on penalties against Brazil last round after routing the Korea Republic 6-3 in the quarterfinals. It finished second in Group A at 2-1 but scored a group-high 8 goals against 3 allowed over three games.
Japan beat Mexico 2-1 when they met in the Group Stage July 25 at Saitama Stadium.
Odds via Tipico Sportsbook; access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated Thursday at 2:12 p.m. ET.
PLAY our new free daily Pick’em Challenge and win! Play now!Prediction
Japan 2, Mexico 1Money line (ML)
Side with JAPAN (+170) as a slight underdog.
The host nation has its best possible team playing for the bronze medal while Mexico has had to divvy up many of its best players among this summer’s Copa America tournament and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Japan grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the first head-to-head meeting of the tournament and carried that lead to the 85th minute before Mexico got on the board. While there’ll be no raucous home crowd, Japan looks to medal at home and already laid out the blueprint for beating the higher-ranked nation.Over/Under (O/U)
Lean to the OVER 2.5 (-130) with plus-money odds on the other side. The bookmakers are expecting a similar score to the last time these teams met and a better effort should be expected from Mexico after trailing by 2 goals for more than 70 minutes in the last meeting.
Only Korea scored more goals than Japan (7) and Mexico (8) in the Group Stage and Mexico played to what was, by far, the highest score of the quarterfinals. Expect both teams to ramp the offense back up after losing low-scoring matches in the semifinals.
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BARCELONA, SPAIN — Barcelona said Thursday that Lionel Messi will not stay with the club after Spanish league financial regulations made it impossible for a deal to be reached between the club and the player.
Barcelona said in a statement that a deal for a new contract had been reached but financial “obstacles” made it impossible for the player to remain with the club.
“Despite club and player reaching an agreement and their clear intention to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles,” the club said.
It blamed “Spanish league regulations” for not allowing the club to sign a new contract with the player. His previous one had ended on June 30.
“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona,” it said. “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 aggrandizement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life,” the statement said.