Lionel Messi has communicated to Barcelona that he wants to leave the club and will activate a clause to end unilaterally his contract.
It has also been reported that the club has received the message, but will defend their rights to demand a fee for the player, rather than let him go for free.
His decision to call time on his career at Barcelona comes following the most humiliating defeat he has suffered while playing for the club, losing 8-2 in the Champions League quarter-final to Bayern Munich.
Although the LaLiga side has already implemented some changes following their embarrassing defeat to Bayern, Messi does not see his future at the Camp Nou.
It was after that game that rumours started to circulate that Messi had come to the end of his tether at Barça, as journalist Marcelo Bechler, the man who first broke the news that Neymar would move to PSG, reported that Messi wanted a move.
It is a situation that neither the club nor Messi ever wanted to happen. He would happily spend the rest of his career at the Camp Nou if he had any faith in the board to oversee the sort of changes the club has needed for a while. But having dragged Barcelona to title wins in 2018 and 2019, not with the help of the board’s recruitment but in spite of it, he does not owe them anything more.
His contract reportedly included a clause that allows him to leave for free, though it was understood it had to be activated before the end of May.
However, due to the special circumstances of this season, Messi believes he can still activate the clause before 31 August.
Messi has been with the club since the age of 13 and made his first-team debut in 2005. He has given his best years to the club, has not won a Champions League for five years, and does not want to waste any more time at a club going through a rebuild as his legs begin to wane.
Where he goes now is another matter, but there will not be a shortage of takers for the greatest player of all time.
Inter Milan are understood to be interested in bringing Messi to the San Siro, while Barça has also shown interest in Lautaro Martínez. The Italian club is understood to have the financial might to match his wage demands too.
Another option for Messi will be a reunion with his former manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Guardiola has not won the Champions League since he managed Messi at Barcelona and with the coach only likely to stay at City for another year, a Last Dance with his old mentor could tempt Messi towards Manchester.
Breaking: Barcelona confirms that Lionel Messi has told the club he wants to leave
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) August 25, 2020