Report: Soccer Megastar Lionel Messi Intent on Leaving Barcelona

Jesse Pantuosco
August 25, 2020 - 4:07 pm

Most football fans never thought they’d see Tom Brady play for a team other than the New England Patriots. Sure enough, he switched uniforms, and now it appears soccer legend Lionel Messi is ready to move on after nearly two decades spent as the face of Barcelona FC.

Messi’s frustration with Barca has been simmering for some time. Traditionally among the sport’s juggernauts, Barcelona has struggled of late, losing in embarrassing fashion to Bayern Munich in Champions League play earlier this month, a defeat preceded months earlier by an equally deflating loss to Real Madrid in “El Clasico.” Not known for stirring the pot, Messi uncharacteristically spoke out against his club earlier this year, feeling management placed unfair pressure on players to accept steep pay cuts amid the COVID pandemic.

Unhappy with the team’s direction—Barcelona recently fired its coach Quique Setien—Messi is hoping to explore other opportunities, though language in his contract could complicate matters. Messi claims he made an arrangement in 2017 that would allow him to leave at the end of any season, as long as he communicated that desire to Barcelona before June. According to Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens of ESPN, Barcelona believes that window for this year has expired. Messi’s representation plans to contest the ruling on grounds the season was halted by a three-month COVID delay. If a team seeks to acquire Messi while still under contract (his deal with Barcelona is set to expire next year), it would cost them an unprecedented €700 million, the equivalent of $828.3 million US dollars.

Messi will obviously make an obscene amount of money wherever he plays next, though his bank account comes second to winning. Per ESPN, Messi is “conscious” that his career is winding down and feels he’d have a better chance of adding to his four European Cups by playing elsewhere.

Manchester City of the English Premier League has already emerged as a frontrunner to land Messi should the six-time Ballon d’Or recipient become available. Messi, who achieved his 700th career goal earlier this year, joined Barcelona’s youth squad as a teenager in 2001 before graduating to the senior circuit in 2004. According to Forbes, only two athletes in the world—tennis star Roger Federer and Messi’s former La Liga rival Cristiano Ronaldo (now of Juventus)—out-earned the 33-year-old Argentinian this past year ($104 million).

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