Reacting to Messi’s departure, 34-year-old Fabregas tweeted: “I will always remember the day you came into the dressing room when I was 13 years old and they told us that a boy from Argentina was coming to try out.
“You sat down and did not speak the whole time. The coach told me in the 1v1 exercise to be strong against you, I saw you so small, that I thought in a second that I would take the ball away from you.
“How silly of me, you left me on the floor and from then on I saw that you were something different.
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Fabregas added: “My dream was always to play for the Barça first team, but doing it with you and Geri always made that dream much more special.
“In the end, it became a reality and just for the mere fact of feeling football as I felt it playing in the false nine position with you and seeing the connection that was there, it was all worth it.
“You go as the best player of all time.
“It will never be the same to see Barça without you.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta, meanwhile, said he was ‘sad’ to see Messi leave but explained the reasoning behind the decision.
“Leo Messi wanted to stay at Barcelona, he had an agreement to stay at Barca and we wanted Leo to stay,” he said.
“I want to thank Leo’s camp and all people involved in the negotiations. Unfortunately, because of La Liga rules we can’t proceed.
“I’m sad but we did everything to keep Leo and he was prepared to stay at Barcelona, it was agreed. A new era starts now without Lionel Messi, we’ll be thankful to Leo.”
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