Lionel Messi can leave Barcelona for free starting next summer, according to a new report. Previously, the signing was practically impossible as he had a release clause of 700 million euro. Next summer, anyone can make a phone call, provided they can pay him 50 million in net salary and convince him to join, according to rumor.
The news comes at a time when Messi’s conflict with technical secretary and ex-teammate Éric Abidal has dominated news. The Argentine was publicly upset at Abidal’s statement that some players did not work hard during the reign of Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona’s former manager.
Manchester City feel that if Messi did leave Barcelona, they’d be first in the queue to get him, according to the Manchester Evening News. City have a couple of executives that are old acquaintances of the #10 in Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain. They also have perhaps Messi’s best friend on the football pitch, Sergio Agüero, and Messi’s favorite coach, Pep Guardiola.
Surely, if Messi wanted to leave, every big club in Europe would be falling over themselves to make an offer, including, probably, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, and well, anyone else that could muster up the money.
However, Messi has proven himself completely loyal to Barcelona in the past and has hinted he would not play for any other European club.
Previous reporting on the free release clause has said that it only applies to non-European teams. If that is the case, an avenue opens up for Messi to join Newell’s Old Boys, the Argentine club in which he started his playing career as a child back in his hometown of Rosario, when he feels he is not at the level of top European football anymore.
However, the newest reporting does not mention that detail, and instead talks about why a European club such as City would be desperate to take advantage.
Keep in mind, at the moment there is no indication that Messi actually wants to leave. ESPN’s well-connected Barcelona reporter, Moisés Llorens, has said that Messi will not leave. In addition, he says that meetings between Abidal and Messi have gone well and perhaps we are seeing an end to the row.