According to reports in Spain and Portugal, Messi has grown tired of Barcelona’s failure to compete in the latter stages of the Champions League in recent years - Barca have failed to progress beyond the semi final stage since winning the competition in 2014/15 - and has grown disenfranchised with the club’s transfer spending and playing style.
Messi’s announcement comes off the back of Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League last Friday. The Spanish side found themselves 4-1 down within half an hour of the one-legged tie in Portugal, and went on to lose the second half by an identical scoreline. Barcelona manager Quique Setien has already been sacked as a result of that showing, while a number of high-profile players are expected to be sold this summer.
Messi informed the club of his intentions to leave straight after that match, with a small number of elite European clubs alert to the possibility of signing arguably the best player in the history of the game. It is believed Messi has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for free any summer he wants, though an astronomical signing on fee and wage package would need to be factored into any deal.
Manchester City are favourites to sign the six-time Ball d’Or winner, with former coach Pep Guardiola still a great admirer of a player he coached between 2008 and 2012. City might be keen on a deal for Messi, with the Premier League side also failing to compete in the latter stages of the Champions League in recent seasons.
Messi is the competition’s second highest scorer, with 115 goals in 143 appearances, and has lifted the trophy on four occasions at his only professional club. A move to another team would be a sensational event, however, given Messi’s long-term association with Barcelona.
He is the club’s all-time record scorer with 634 goals in 731 appearances, and has won 10 La Ligas, six Spanish cups and two Club World Cups as well as his European crowns and personal awards since joining Barcelona at the age of 13.
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