Lionel Messi’s father will meet Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu for crunch talks aimed at resolving his son’s future on Wednesday afternoon, sources have confirmed to ESPN.
Jorge Messi — who is also his son’s agent — is flying from Argentina to help break the ongoing deadlock between club and player. Sources have told ESPN that Jorge Messi will demand that Barcelona allow his son to leave for free, releasing his player registration. Bartomeu will propose a two-year contract extension to keep Messi at the club until 2023, sources have told ESPN.
Messi and his legal team argue that Messi unilaterally rescinded his contract with Barcelona with a burofax sent a week ago. As a result, the forward did not attend coronavirus testing on Sunday or new coach Ronald Koeman’s first preseason training session on Monday, as doing so would have undermined that legal claim.
Barca, meanwhile, say that the clause in Messi’s most recent contract — signed in 2017 — which allowed him to leave for free at the end of each season expired in June. The club’s stance is that Messi has a deal until 2021, and he or a prospective buyer must meet his €700 million release clause to allow for a move.
There have been conflicting reports about that buyout clause, with some claims that it is no longer active — a position that has been denied outright by both Barcelona and La Liga. Lawyers consulted by ESPN say that various interpretations of Messi’s contract are possible, and a lengthy court case would likely follow if no agreement is reached.
Sources say Barcelona are not optimistic that Messi will agree to a renewal, given his desire to leave and the events of the last week. Manchester City are favourites to sign Messi, and the player has already discussed the possibility with his former coach Pep Guardiola.
ESPN previously reported that City have been analysing the finances required to pull off a deal. A €100m-150m cash plus player compromise package has been mooted, but it is not clear whether that would be feasible or acceptable for either club.