Lionel Messi has told FC Barcelona that he wants to leave the club with immediate effect – and also on a free transfer.
The 33 year old Argentinian star sent a ‘burofax’ to the club informing them of his wish to leave. A burofax is an official registered document normally hand-delivered by Spain’s post office – and certified as being received for possible legal requirements.
According to Catalonia’s RAC1 radio station, he had also recently told incoming manager Ronald Koeman that he considered himself more ‘out of the club than in it’.
Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or six times, reportedly considers that a clause in his contract, which expires next summer, means that he can leave on a free transfer. But Barça, who have not yet officially responded to his request to leave, have previously insisted that he is still tied to a 700m euro buy-out clause.
Barça were beaten 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals on 16 August. Messi made his debut for Barcelona in 2004 and has won the Champions League four times. He has made no secret of the fact that he is seeking to win it five times.
Commenting on the appointment of Ronald Koeman as the new manager last week, the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu had also insisted that Messi remained part of the club’s ‘project’.
In an interview with Barça TV+ last Tuesday, Bartomeu stressed that the player ‘has said many times that he wants to finish his career at Barça. Koeman has also said to us that Messi in the pillar of his project.’
According to Spain’s AS sports newspaper, however, Ronald Koeman recently told Messi that his ‘privileges are over’ at the club.
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Former Barça captain Carles Puyol tweeted his support for Messi on Tuesday evening with, ‘Respect and admiration, Leo. All my support, my friend.’
Bartomeu was scheduled to hold an emergency board meeting at the club on Tuesday evening, with many fans already congregating near the ground and demanding the president’s resignation.
Former FC Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, tweeted: ‘Bartomeu and his board must resign immediately. They have been undermining the morale of Messi to save themselves from the economic and sporting turmoil they have created. If they resigned there would still be hope that Messi would stay at Barcelona.’
Catalan President Quim Torra tweeted to Messi that, ‘Catalonia will always be your home. Thank you so much for all this time of happiness and extraordinary football. We have been lucky enough to share a few years of our lives with the best player in the world. And a noble athlete. We will never forget you.’
The tweet was accompanied with a photo of the player receiving Catalonia’s ‘Creu de Sant Jordi’ (St.George’s Cross).
Catalunya serà sempre casa teva. Moltes gràcies per tots aquest temps de felicitat i d’un futbol extraordinari. Hem tingut la sort de compartir uns anys de les nostres vides amb el millor jugador del món. I un noble esportista No t’oblidarem mai. Leo Messi, Creu de Sant Jordi. pic.twitter.com/Ojev577MoE
— Quim Torra i Pla (@QuimTorraiPla) August 25, 2020