After meeting with the club’s new manager, Messi told the Koeman that he felt “more out than in.”
Lionel Messi informed FC Barcelona on Tuesday of his desire to leave the Spanish club immediately—and on a free transfer.
Fans across the globe are shocked by the announcement.
The 33-year-old Argentinian international held a meeting last week with new Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman. Koeman has been meeting with each member of the team individually to discuss his future plans for the club. According to Catalonia’s RAC1 radio, Messi told the Koeman that he felt “more out than in.”
Following his meeting with Koeman on Tuesday, Messi sent a fax to the club saying he wishes to exercise a clause in his contract with Barcelona, allowing him to leave for free with immediate effect.
Barcelona replied in the same format, expressing their desire for the forward to stay.
Messi’s request to leave Barcelona comes in the wake of club upheaval. In meetings last week, the new manager told players Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, and Samuel Umtiti they are not part of Barcelona’s plans.
Terms and conditions
While Barcelona has yet to react publicly to Messi’s decision, they continue to insist that he is “part of Koeman’s plans.” However, if Messi wants to leave Barcelona, the official price would be €700 million.
Messi’s contract expires next summer. Should he break it, Barcelona would have to negotiate with interested clubs to maximize their profits from his departure. Worse, a clause in his contract allows him to walk away for free so long as he communicates that decision.
According to the terms of the contract, Messi had to inform Barcelona of his decision to leave before the end of May. Barcelona believes the deadline for the validity of the clause had expired.
The global COVID-19 pandemic, however, changed everything this year, extending the normal season into the summer. The seasons did not formally end until the Champions League final last Sunday.
Therefore, Messi’s camp argues that the deadline should be set to August 31, taking this exceptional season into consideration.
The club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has scheduled an emergency board meeting in response to Messi’s formal request to leave Barcelona. There have been demands for Bartomeu to resign as Barcelona goes through this complete shift in roles.
“They have been undermining the morale of Messi to save themselves from the turmoil they have created,” tweeted Joan Laporta, club president from 2003 to 2010. “If they resigned, there would still be hope that Messi would stay.”
The relationship between Messi and the club he has called home for nearly two decades is now fractured and irreparable. Bartomeu, “already under intense pressure, may now go down as the man who oversaw the last, bitter, sad departure of the most important player in the club’s history.”