Lionel Messi will leave the club this summer, Barcelona announced in a bombshell statement on Thursday night.

The footballing icon wished to remain at the club but due to La Liga regulations a deal between the player and the club is not possible.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has spent his entire career at the Spanish club but will now become a free agent which is sure to set tails wagging at the biggest clubs across Europe.

A statement from Barcelona reads: "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."

News of his departure rocked the footballing world and quick-witted social media users were quick off the mark with hilarious reactions.

Premier League giants including Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City were mocked as rumours circulated over who his next club will be.

It is thought only a handful of clubs in the world could afford his wages.

You can see a selection of the best tweets here: