Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona he wants to “unilaterally” terminate his contract with the Spanish giants, a club source confirmed to AFP on Tuesday.
Lawyers for the Argentina star sent Barca fax in which they announced Messi’s desire to rescind his contract by triggering a release clause, sending shockwaves throughout the world of football.
However, the club maintains the clause expired in June and that he remains under contract until the end of the 2021 season.
“In principal, this clause expired on 10 June, but the unusual nature of this season disrupted by the coronavirus opened the way for Messi to ask to be released from his contract now,” wrote Spanish sports daily Marca.
“It’s the first step towards opening negotiations over his departure, on the basis of which his release clause amounts to €700 million.”
Messi joined Barca’s youth academy at the age of 13 and made his debut for Barca in 2004 as a 17-year-old.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is the club’s record scorer with 634 goals and has won the Champions League four times.
But his future at Barca was thrown into doubt following a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals in Lisbon 11 days ago.
The humbling defeat sparked drastic changes within the club. Coach Quique Setien was sacked after barely six months in charge while sporting director Eric Abidal was also dismissed after Barca’s first season without a trophy since 2007.