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Messi tells Barcelona he wants to leave club

August 27, 2020

Lionel Messi has written to Barcelona executives expressing his desire to leave. The Spanish club recently suffered a humiliating loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Sport | FC Barcelona: Lionel Messi
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/E. Alonso

Lionel Messi has communicated his desire to leave the club immediately after two decades at the only professional club he has ever represented, according to multiple reports.

The 33-year-old superstar reportedly sent a burofax, a rapid communications system used in Spain that includes third-party proof of delivery, expressing his desire to leave. His Barcelona contract is set to expire at the end of the 2020-21 season.

The burofax reportedly referenced a clause in Messi's contract that allowed him to leave with immediate effect. According to reports, however, Barcelona claim the clause needed to be activated before June 10. However, Messi's camp argues that the clause was still valid because the season had to be extended due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The last straw

The demand comes a week and a half after Barcelona suffered an 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The club fired head coach Quique Setien shortly after the loss and have since appointed former Dutch national team coach Ronald Koeman — also a former Barca player — as a replacement.

The loss to Bayern was the Catalans' heaviest ever in Europe and exposed an ageing team that Messi had said was not good enough.

The Argentinian international said it in February and repeated those sentiments in July, when a rant after handing Real Madrid the La Liga title turned into a brutal assessment of Barcelona's season. 

Barca legend and former captain Carles Puyol, a long-time teammate of Messi, tweeted: "Respect and admiration, Leo. All my support, friend."

Messi joined Barcelona's youth academy in 2000 and made his professional debut with the club in 2004 when he was 17 years old. He has made 731 appearances for the club, recording 634 goals and 285 assists.

He has won 10 Spanish league and six Spanish cup titles as well as four Champions League titles with Barcelona — including two trebles in 2008-09 and 2014-15. He also has been awarded six Ballon d'Ors, which honors the world's top football player, during his career.

dv, jsi/msh (AP, Reuters)