Barcelona ‘knew Messi wanted to leave in July’ as he edges closer to exit

Barcelona chiefs knew in July that Lionel Messi wanted to quit the club despite the official announcement only coming this week.

The Argentine signalled his intentions with a burofax that sent shock waves through the world of football.

But leading lights at the Catalan club knew their star player wanted to leave months ago having been told informally about his desires.

Messi and his agents made their mind up on their future movements and told the board that his contract would not be renewed, reports Marca.

Barcelona though are adamant the 33-year-old must honour his contract having missed the June 10 deadline that would've allowed him to leave for free.

It means the situation could turn ugly despite Messi's want to leave in a friendly manner.

The Argentine's entourage insist that the lengthy extension to the season should be accounted for in his contract.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu will insist however that Messi's £624m release clause is paid in full before they sanction his departure.

Manchester City are the club most heavily linked with his signature given their financial power and the lure of Pep Guardiola.

Messi and Guardiola teamed up impressively at Barcelona for four years and the coach has never hidden his admiration for the six-time Ballon D'Or winner.

The City boss has been pictured in Barcelona to further enhance speculation of a move to the Etihad.

Argentine paper La Nacion claim Messi has told friends: “I’m going to talk to Pep so he can arrange my move to City.

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"The football there is spectacular."

It means Messi's final game in a glittering Nou Camp career could be Barcelona's humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich.

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