Barcelona are adamant they will not negotiate to allow Lionel Messi to leave the cub before his contract ends next year.
The 33-year-old Argentine has requested a personal meeting with the Barcelona hierarchy to discuss a solution to the impasse over his transfer request, Sky Sports News can confirm.
Messi asked to activate a release clause that would end his contract – which currently runs until next June – and allow him to leave for free this summer, but the club have said the clause has already expired.
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However, Messi’s lawyers are arguing that – in the spirit of the deal and good faith – the clause is still active after the rescheduled Champions League final on August 23, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Manchester City, coached by former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, are seen as favourites to sign Messi, who has a buyout clause of 700m euros.
Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan are both said to be preparing offers in an attempt to persuade him away from a reunion with Guardiola and international colleague Sergio Aguero.
Messi hasn’t spoken publicly since the 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on August 14 at the end of a difficult season, which saw the club finish without a title for the first time since 2007-08.
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Analysis: Meeting to firm up move away from Barca
Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol:
“I think the situation is that Messi wants a meeting with the Barcelona board to reiterate his desire that he wants to leave.
“Barcelona’s position is not going to change. Messi and his representatives think there is a clause in his contract which means he can leave for nothing this summer.
“I think the message he will get in that meeting from Barcelona is ‘you are not going anywhere for free, if you want to leave we believe your contract says that there is a release clause of 700m euros, that is what it will take’.”
Insight: ‘Meeting did not go well for Messi’
Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero told Sky Sports News the seeds for Messi’s decision were sown when he met new boss Ronald Koeman last week:
“The main thing is that the meeting last Friday with Ronald Koeman was not as good as they expected for a football club like Barcelona.
“The meeting with Koeman didn’t go well, from Messi’s opinion.
“Koeman told him that he didn’t count, for example, with players such as Arturo Vidal or Luis Suarez. And Messi didn’t like that.
“The way of Koeman treating him in the media and the way he has expressed the way he wants to work in Barcelona, wasn’t liked by Messi, so I think that was the situation.”
Analysis: Man City is Messi’s best option
Spanish football journalist Alvaro Montero on Sky Sports News:
“Manchester City is the best option because of the money, because of the Premier League and because of Pep Guardiola. Put everything together and it is a good situation for Messi.
“This evening in Spain, on a television programme, they said that Manchester United could be an option. Many people in Italy are saying that Inter could be an option. I don’t think so because there is a difference in the financial situation of the Premier League and Italy, France, Spain or Germany.
“Of course, the Premier League is also maybe the best league in the world so I think Premier League plus Manchester City plus Guardiola is a good cocktail altogether.
“We know the union of Guardiola and Messi at Barcelona eight or nine years ago was amazing. Maybe the best team in the world ever. I would say there is a huge possibility of Manchester City and I would say they are the first ones in this race.”
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