Lionel Messi hands over transfer request to Barcelona as fans protest outside Camp Nou

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Lionel Messi has never been so close to leaving Barcelona at any point in his 20 years at the Catalan club.

Representatives for the Argentina striker sent a certified fax to Barca’s board on Tuesday afternoon highlighting the 33-year-old’s intention to leave Camp Nou for free this summer.

Messi’s contract expires in 2021, but the club captain has told Barca he wants to activate a clause that allows him to leave this summer.

Sport standard understands that the clause expired in June, with Messi forced to tell the club in May if he had wanted to leave.

However, with the season extended due to Covid-19, Argentina’s interpretation is that the clause would apply until the end of this month.

Barca are convinced the clause is not valid now and insist their star player can only leave if another club pays their release clause, which amounts to € 700m.

Messi has expressed his frustrations on several occasions in recent months.

In January, the Argentine was unhappy with claims by former sporting director Eric Abidal that the players were not training properly under Ernesto Valverde.

Anger also sparked anger over the dismissal of the coach, followed by reports the board paid a social media company to protect the reputation of President Josep Maria Bartomeu and discredit others, including Messi .

The season then ended with a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, after Messi twice warned the team were not good enough to win the competition.

Barca’s transfer policy has been another bone of contention, following a string of bad signings in recent seasons and an unsuccessful attempt to bring Neymar back last summer, when the Argentine admitted he wasn’t sure if the club had done everything they could to re-sign the Brazilian.

Messi interrupted his vacation to meet new manager Ronald Koeman last week, but the Dutchman’s short phone call to tell Luis Suarez he was no longer wanted by Barcelona may have been the final straw for the ‘Argentinian and a big turnaround will now be necessary to continue. him at Camp Nou.

Bartomeu’s exit could help and around 300 supporters demonstrated outside the club’s stadium on Tuesday night to demand his resignation.

But Bartomeu has denied reports that he is about to hand over his notice and is supposed to close ranks amid the latest Camp Nou crisis.

Lionel Messi in profile

And even if Messi were to leave, the 2020-21 campaign would still be a transitional season – with Koeman and without Suarez.

Messi, 33, wants a winning project and doesn’t have time to wait as he nears the end of his career.

That said, he was also part of the debacle against Bayern. None of Barca’s players performed well in the 8-2 loss and there is some frustration among fans that Messi hasn’t spoken since coming out of the Champions League quarter-finals.

After the game defender Gerard Pique said he would be ready to go if he was part of the problem, but Messi is the club’s captain and he has remained silent.

Messi’s next club?

(Betfair odds)

  • Man City – 6/4
  • Inter Milan – 3/1
  • PSG – 3/1
  • Juventus – 4/1
  • Manchester United – 13/2
  • Any MLS Club – 12/1
  • Liverpool – 14/1
  • Leeds – 20/1
  • Any Argentine club – 25/1
  • Bayern Munich – 35/1
  • Chelsea – 50/1
  • Lazio – 100/1
  • Newcastle – 100/1
  • Naples – 125/1
  • Real Madrid – 150/1

The situation now appears to be beyond a power play or a call for change, but the Argentine’s potential departure remains complicated.

At this point in his career Messi would like to stay in Europe and try to win another Champions League, but only a handful of clubs could afford it.

Manchester City and Inter Milan would likely lead the race for his signing.

The Premier League champions could offer a tantalizing reunion with Pep Guardiola and a sporting project that is ready to challenge on all fronts, while a move to Italy seems more appropriate due to language, culture and for family reasons .

In the meantime, intense and difficult days lie ahead in Barcelona as everyone associated with the club accepts an unthinkable and undesirable reality: that after 731 games, 634 goals, 34 titles and 16 seasons at Camp Nou, Messi will not be able to play. – never be for the Blaugrana again.

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