Will Lionel Messi leave FC Barcelona next year? The question really leads to two possibilities: Messi does not renew his contract and leaves for free, or Messi has renewed already (or will renew) but someone will pay his buyout clause, which reportedly is “just” 300 million euro.
So, has Messi renewed? Well, he hasn’t signed his contract yet. So why did Barça announce it was done?
According to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, the reason is that the physical signing by the player himself is a formality since his father has power of attorney and he has signed already. That is to say, Messi’s own signature is not needed for the contract to be legally valid since the father has signed on.
You can choose to believe Bartomeu or not, but at the moment no one has contradicted him.
However, going along with this version of events still brings up the question: why hasn’t he signed it? Now it could be some mundane scheduling problem, but there’s reason to believe something deeper is at play here.
There are murmurs that Messi is completely dissatisfied with the leadership of the club and is delaying signing the contract because of this. Messi’s contract may be legally valid, but he doesn’t want to give them the photo op and the handshake in public.
And if that’s the case, then the idea of someone paying his buyout (Manchester City perhaps?) and actually forcing the move becomes more believable.