Lionel Messi could still activate a clause that seemingly expired in June and leave Barcelona for free this summer – that’s according to reports.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has dropped a massive bombshell in telling Barcelona he wants to leave the club and terminate his contract.

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That is what is being reported by TyC Sports in Argentina and Marca in Spain, and it is news that could lead to one of the biggest ever transfers in football.

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'Respect and admiration, Leo. All my support, friend'

Former Barca captain Carles Puyol has tweeted his support for Messi, perhaps the clearest indication amid all the reports - and before confirmation from the club - that the 33-year-old is set to leave.

The Messi exit clause – what now?

Back on July 1 there was relief for Barca fans, as a clause in Messi’s contract stipulating he could leave for free in the summer expired at the end of June.

That exit clause had been in place since signing a new deal in 2017, but given the 2019-20 season was prolonged due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are reports suggesting Messi could still activate it.

“A legal battle is coming,” reported Cadena SER journalist Sique Rodriguez, with Barcelona out to ensure their star player cannot leave on a free.

Furthermore, an emergency board meeting has reportedly been called to resolve the matter, with the club’s hierarchy clearly – and understandably – unwilling to see Messi walk out the Nou Camp door.

Power play from Messi?

This could of course be a major power play from Messi. The presidential elections have been brought forward to March, but if the player wants to see change now then he could be making this mightiest of ultimatums.

If so, current president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the rest of the Barca board have a decision to make, call Messi’s bluff, or call an immediate election.

An election would see frontrunner Victor Font likely take over as president, and he would then look to soothe Messi’s fears and also potentially bring in Xavi – the man he wants in charge of his Barca project.

Therefore it could be Messi leaving in the coming weeks, or Bartomeu and even Koeman. That would be no contest for Barca fans, but whether it comes to that remains to be seen.

Where could Messi go?

Given Messi’s astronomical wages there aren’t many clubs who could afford to sign him.

Manchester City, managed by Messi’s former boss Pep Guardiola, are one of the options whilst recent reports have suggested local rivals Manchester United are also interested.

Serie A side Inter Milan have a long-held interest in signing Messi and might be players whilst PSG are a logical destination as a team who could certainly afford to sign him.

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