According to CBC Sports, Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave the club after nearly two decades with the Spanish giants.
And furthermore it seems the club has confirmed Messi has issued a note expressing his desire to depart. This comes eleven days after Barcelona’s crushing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, probably the most humiliating reverse both club or player have ever endured.
It capped a difficult season for Barcelona, their first without a title since 2007-08, and appears to have plunged the club into crisis.
Pep Guardiola, Messi’s old boss at Barcelona has clearly been monitoring developments, with Manchester City reportedly number-crunching to work out if they can afford the Argentinian without breaching Financial Fair Play rules.
Barca’s official stance is that Messi is not for sale and any interested parties will be referred to his €700 million release clause. It is unlikely this will kick in though as the club will not want to risk allowing Messi’s contract to run down. The player will be out of contract in 2021.
At 33, Messi knows he doesn’t have many years left at the very top level and wants to ensure his final seasons are spent at a club competing for the game’s biggest prizes. Increasingly Barcelona is not looking like fitting that profile of club.
Then again after almost two decades as a Barcelona player, it would be a huge wrench for Messi to leave. Is his note serious, or a posturing to send a signal to the Catalan club to ‘get the finger out’? It’s certainly not the start new manager Ronald Koeman will have wanted, having to deal with Messi’s future right from the get-go.
The decision may well be taken out of the Dutchman’s hands however, as some of Barca’s top brass can see the benefits of cashing in on Messi to launch a rebuilding initiative.
Back to City, with their finances currently under the microscope more than ever following their recent win over UEFA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)...
That outcome wasn’t entirely conclusive due to the lack of evidence and enough doubt shrouded the whole affair for a €10m fine to be left in place due to the club’s refusal to cooperate in UEFA’s initial investigation.
City certainly would have to convince Barca to negotiate Messi’s exit for a more reasonable price than his €700m clause.
Barca is likely to mark time for now, as they wait to see if Messi’s desire to leave dissipates or remains. He has always expressed how happy he and his family are in the Catalan city, but has remained tight-lipped since the Bayern defeat
If Messi does decide to leave for City, he would link up with one of his best friends, Sergio Aguero, and Guardiola, the coach who helped him win Champions League titles in 2009 and 2011.