Lionel Messi has told Barcelona that he wants to leave the club this summer, sources have confirmed to ESPN.
The club confirmed to ESPN Deportes’ Jordi Blanco on Tuesday that they were notified by Messi of his decision via burofax, a service used in Spain to urgently dispatch a document that requires proof to third parties. The club responded to Messi via the same service saying they want him to stay and finish his career at the club.
Messi, 33, has a contract until 2021 but has grown disappointed with events on and off the pitch at Camp Nou in recent months. Reports from Argentina claim Messi believes a clause in the contract should oblige Barcelona to let him leave for free. However, as reported by ESPN earlier this year, the club maintain that particular clause expired at the start of the summer.
The debated clause was included in the last contract signed by Messi, in 2017, and stipulated he could leave for nothing at the end of each season as long as he communicated his decision to Barca before June. Otherwise, any rival club wanting him would have to pay a €700 million release clause.
A source at Barcelona has told ESPN they firmly believe that Messi’s window to leave for free this year has passed, but other reports say Messi’s legal team are arguing the extension of the season altered the expiry date of the clause.