Lionel Messi’s exit plan creates confusion in Barcelona

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Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave the club after nearly two decades with the Spanish giants.

The club confirmed on Tuesday that the Argentine sent a document expressing his desire to activate a release clause that would end his contract and allow him to leave for free this summer.

Barcelona have received this in writing via a fax from his lawyers. They have not officially replied yet but are understood to be preparing one.

Barcelona do not agree the clause is still active. It is said to have expired on June 10 – 10 days after the original date of the Champions League final on May 30.

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But Messi’s lawyers are arguing that – in the spirit of the deal and good faith – the clause is still active after the rescheduled final on August 23, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 33-year-old Argentine signed with the club in 2017.

Under the terms of the contract which expires in 2021, the only way Messi can leave without the club’s consent is if a rival side pays his release clause of 700 million euros (629.7 million pounds).

The club considers that the contract is fully binding until 30 June 2021.

Last week, Barcelona’s new head coach Ronald Koeman said he wants Messi to remain at the club.

Koeman said: “I don’t know if I have to convince Messi (to stay). Of course he is the best player in the world and you want the best player in the world in your team – you don’t want him playing against you.

“For me as a coach, I would love to work with Messi because he wins matches. If he is at the ability and the level he has always shown, I would be more than happy for him to stay.

“He’s still got a contract and he is still a Barcelona player. There are some older players in the team and we need to make some decisions but in Messi’s case, I hope that he stays with us.”