Lionel Messi has allegedly told Barcelona that he wants to leave the club this summer.
Barcelona confirmed to The Associated Press news agency on Tuesday that Messi sent the club a document expressing his desire to leave.
Messi made his decision after meeting with the new Barcelona head coach, Ronald Koeman, who succeeded Quique Setien in the Camp Nou dugout earlier this month.
Barcelona said it told Messi it wants him to stay and finish his career at the club. It hinted that a legal battle could be coming and said it will not automatically grant the Argentine great his wishes.
The Argentinian, who according to RAC1 radio had told new manager Ronald Koeman that he felt “more out than in”, has sent has sent a fax to Barcelona informing them if his desire to go.
His camp believes that a clause in his contact means that he can walk away for no fee. Barcelona, by contrast, insist that he is still bound by a 700m Euros buy-out clause.
Barcelona are yet to react officially, but they continue to insist that he is part of Koeman’s plans and that if he is to depart, his official price is 700m Euros. Messi’s contract expires next summer, suggesting that they would be forced to negotiate with potential buyers.
Messi, who has been named world player of the year a record six times, has grown increasingly unhappy in the last 12 months with how the club is being run under president Joseph Maria Bartomeu.