Barcelona veteran Lionel Messi has informed the club management about his desire to leave the club before the next season begins, several reports in Spanish and Argentine media said.
According to ESPN, Barcelona confirmed on Tuesday that Messi notified them about his decision via burofax, a service used in Spain to urgently dispatch a document that requires proof to third parties.
Rumours have been afloat about the Argentine’s growing disparity with Barcelona management – especially with club president Josep Bartomeu – for a long time. Reportedly, it has reached a boiling point after Barcelona’s embarrassing 2-8 beating against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals.
Messi has a contract with the Catalan club until 2021 with a clause to leave the club at the end of the 2019-20 season which expired on July 31. The 33-year-old, however, has reasoned that since the season was played beyond the normal schedule due to the pandemic, his clause should also be extended.
The 33-year-old six-time Ballon D’Or winner, who has been at Barcelona since the age of 13, made his senior debut in 2004. Messi has played 485 appearances for Barcelona and scored 444 goals for them in all competitions.
Coach Quique Setien was sacked after the Bayern loss. Messi met with Setien’s replacement, Ronald Koeman, last week, telling him that he had doubts about his future in Catalonia.
Meanwhile, Barca were knocked out of the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Bilbao in February and Friday’s humiliation against Bayern means the club ends the season without a trophy for the first time in 12 years.
It was the first time since 1946 that Barcelona conceded eight goals. Their last such embarassment had come 74 years ago when Sevilla defeated them 8-0. Exiting the Champions League, Barcelona finished their season without any significant title for the first time since 2008.
The eight goals scored in Lisbon by Bayern Munich are the most scored by any team in a knockout game in the history of Europe’s premier club competition.