Lionel Messi's contract with Barcelona has expired, leaving the 34-year-old as a free agent. Messi is currently playing in Copa America with Argentina, though he remains in advanced negotiations with Barcelona over a new contract.
His contract expired at midnight on Thursday 1 July, leaving him free to pursue other ventures, should he wish to. Barcelona president Joan Laporta suggested in May that talks over Messi's contract were "going well".
Laporta has also accepted that the club’s financial situation mean that they cannot afford to keep paying his current wages. Messi's recently expired contract reportedly earned him €500,000 a week, which lasted for a total of three years.
The expiry of Messi's contract comes a year after he tried to exercise a clause in his contract which would have allowed him to leave the club for free with immediate effect, despite still having a year left on his contract. Messi sent a fax to Barcelona to do this last August, however, the clause expired in June 2020. This meant that the Argentine stayed contracted to the club until 2021, with a €700m buy-out clause.
Reports indicated that Messi would reunite with Pep Guardiola and join Manchester City last year when he tried exercising the clause in his contract, which ultimately didn't come to fruition.
Messi's legal team attempted to argue that he should be allowed an extension to the clause due to the prolonged season, but to no avail. La Liga ruled the clause expired, and Messi had to honour the final year of his contract at Barcelona.
The Argentine has previously stated that he would hope to one day play in the MLS, while there are suggestions that PSG are looking closely at Messi's current situation.
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