Real Madrid players were reportedly left stunned by the news of Lionel Messi requesting to leave Barcelona.
The Argentine has made all the headlines this week after reports emerged of him wanting to call time on his spell at the Nou Camp.
News of Messi wanting out of the Catalan giants sent shockwaves around the footballing world and even those at their bitter rivals were left shocked.
According to ESPN, there was a frantic bout of messages exchanged on a WhatsApp group among the Madrid players after the news broke.
Los Blancos stars found it hard to believe that their rival’s best player was keen on leaving the club.
Not a single member of Madrid’s squad has experienced El Clasico without facing the six-time Ballon d’Or winner including Bernabeu veteran Sergio Ramos.
Messi boasts 26 goals against the La Liga champions and is the leading all-time El Clasico goalscorer.
But the Argentina international now wants a fresh challenge in the wake of another disappointing campaign for Barcelona as they finished runners-up in La Liga and suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Manchester City are the favourites to sign him with a reunion with Pep Guardiola set to be on the cards but there is still a debate over whether his mammoth £630m release clause will have to be paid.
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Daily Star columnist and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson detailed in his column this week how Messi is not the player he once was and City shouldn’t be breaking the bank to sign him this summer.
"Lionel Messi is not the best player in the world any more. Is it worth £500m to watch the end?" he said.
"Don’t get me wrong. Messi was the greatest player on the planet. But times change. He’s a shadow of his former self now.
"Messi has said he wants to leave Barcelona. But how many clubs have been in for him so far?
"A few years ago every club in the world would have been banging down the door. Manchester United could afford him because they would sell so many shirts around the world. And obviously City could.
"But is it worth it? You would have to completely change your team to accommodate him and his wages would be astronomical. He can get away with strolling around all day for Barcelona."
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