Lionel Messi broke the internet yesterday with news of him wanting to leave Spanish giants Barcelona after making his debut aged 17 in October 2004.
Barcelona confirmed it received a document sent by the Argentine expressing his desire to activate a release clause that would end his contract and allow him to leave for free this summer on Tuesday.
The club received this in writing via fax from his lawyers but yet to officially reply although understood to be preparing one.
Barcelona, however, do not agree that the clause is still active as the club believes the clause expired on 10 June, 10 days after the original date of the Champions League final on May 30.
But Messi’s lawyers are arguing that – in the spirit of the deal and good faith – the clause is still active after the rescheduled final on 23 August, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Messi announced his intentions to activate his release clause 11 days after Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The defeat capped a difficult season for Barcelona which saw them go trophyless since 2007-08 and also receive one of the worst defeats in the club’s history and Messi’s career.
Messi has won lots of personal laurels playing for Barcelona including a record six Ballon d’Or awards during this time and has helped the club win 10 Spanish league titles and four Champions Leagues.
Former Barcelona captain Carles Puyol was one of the first to react to the news that Messi wants to leave, tweeting: “Respect and admiration, Leo. All my support, friend.”
Last week, Barcelona’s newly employed coach, Ronald Koeman, was excited about the prospects of having Messi remain at the club.
Koeman had said: “I don’t know if I have to convince Messi (to stay). Of course, he is the best player in the world and you want the best player in the world in your team – you don’t want him playing against you.
“For me as a coach, I would love to work with Messi because he wins matches. If he is at the ability and the level he has always shown, I would be more than happy for him to stay.
“He’s still got a contract and he is still a Barcelona player. There are some older players in the team and we need to make some decisions but in Messi’s case, I hope that he stays with us.”
Many believed despite Messi could have left Barcelona about 5-6 years ago, the catalyst for his decision was hinged on the fact that the new manager asked Luiz Suarez to find a new club. And we all know Messi and Suarez share a strong connection.
Also, speculations on where he ends up next has been flooding the media with Manchester City one of the favourite destination for the Argentine, should he leave Camp Nou.
Paris Saint-Germain manager Thomas Tuchel says Lionel Messi would be welcome at the club if he ever decided to leave Barcelona, but he does not expect the Argentine forward to do so.