Madrid-based sport daily Marca are Spain's biggest newspaper, of any kind. And their front cover proclaims the dropping of a bombshell: Lionel Messi won't renew with FC Barcelona.
Marca's Cover | "Five Days Left: Modric declares himself fit for the Calderon" pic.twitter.com/ffJOeBWUNH
According to their report. Messi will see out his contract until 2018 and leave, most probably for Manchester City, where Pep Guardiola hypothetically would still be the manager. Apparently, his tax issues have made him decide to leave Spain,
Of course, even Marca hedges, saying Messi could "change his mind" and the FC Barcelona front office is still working on a renewal.
Meanwhile, Barcelona's two sport newspapers have launched stories denying Marca's.
Mundo Deportivo says that Barcelona's board is calm about the renewal and that both sides are confident negotiations will be successful. Barcelona apparently are just waiting for Messi's dad to return to Catalonia and to finish up renewals of Luis Suárez, Marc-André Ter Stegen and Ivan Rakitić.
Diario Sport says the club is not worried and is convinced Messi will stay. It repeats MD's claim that Barcelona will work to renew key players first, to assure Messi he will have a worthwhile supporting cast. Sport goes even further to say that Barcelona sees this Marca cover as a form of vengeance because of the club's boycott of the Marca awards.
Barcelona boycotted the awards because Javier Tebas, the La Liga president, was due to win a fair play award despite recent comments criticizing Blaugrana players' celebration at Mestalla.
This was after a dramatic 3-2 win over Valencia in which the players were pelted with water bottles. There was also the suggestion that it could have been due to Cristiano Ronaldo winning the best player award, when Messi or Suárez perhaps had better claims to the title.