Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave the club after nearly two decades with the Spanish giants.
The club confirmed to the Associated Press on Tuesday that the 33-year-old has sent a fax to Barcelona asking the club to allow him to activate a clause in his contract that will allow him to leave on a free transfer this summer, with his deal currently set to expire at the end of next season.
Rumours of Messi’s unhappiness have been swirling since Bayern Munich humiliated Barcelona 8-2 in the Champions League quarter-final on 14 August, ending a season in which the club failed to win any trophies.
Following that match, Barcelona sacked head coach Quique Setien as well as technical manager Eric Abidal.
Barcelona subsequently hired Ronald Koeman to replace Setien, with the Dutchman expressing his desire to keep the Argentinian star at Camp Nou.
After sitting down with Messi, however, it appears that Koeman was unable to convince his side’s talisman to become a part of his project.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has previously insisted that Messi will end his career at Camp Nou as Bartomeu’s own future continues to be questioned.
Bartomeu has moved forward Barca’s presidential elections to March as he looks to keep hold of a position that would be even more precarious if he is to oversee his club’s talisman departing.
With his desire to leave confirmed, attention will turn to Messi’s potential next destination with very few clubs likely able to afford the Argentinian’s wages.
Inter, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City have been mooted as possible landing spots, and a move to Major League Soccer has also been discussed.
Last week Barcelona’s new head coach Ronald Koeman said he wants Messi to remain at the club.
Koeman 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.’
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