Lionel Messi is ready to leave Barcelona when his contract ends next summer, according to reports from Spain SER. Messi has called off negotiations over a new deal, with the Barcelona captain angry about leaked media reports that appeared to blame him for the sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde in January.
That’s according to Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, who reported that the 33-year-old is also frustrated about the Barca squad’s lack of quality and wants to leave at the end of next season. The report will fuel speculation about where Messi will play next – with the forward’s options potentially including a reunion with former Nou Camp boss Pep Guardiola.
Guardiola’s contract with Manchester City is also due to expire at the end of next season, although it remains to be seen whether he will sign a new deal at the Etihad Stadium. Messi thrived under Guardiola’s tutelage at Barca between 2008 and 2012, with the pair winning three La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues and two Club World Cups together.
And while the Argentine star is heading towards the latter stages of his playing career, he is two years the junior of his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who is still playing at the top level for Juventus. The report from Cadena Ser said Messi and his father Jorge had begun discussing renewing his last deal with the club, which was signed in 2017, but that he no longer wishes to stay at the Camp Nou.
Messi, who turned 33 last month, scored his 700th career goal on Tuesday against Atletico Madrid, but the milestone strike ended in disappointment as Barca drew the game 2-2 in the latest blow to their bid to retain the Spanish title. Barca trail Real Madrid by four points in the title race with five games remaining after Real beat Getafe 1-0 on Thursday.
Previously known for his shy personality off the pitch, Messi has become more vocal in his criticism of the Catalan giants in the past year. In January he hit out at Eric Abidal, accusing the sporting director of implying that players had led to Valverde being sacked.
In a February interview with newspaper Mundo Deportivo, Messi declared the team were not good enough to win this season’s Champions League. Then in April he criticised the board for implying players were not willing to accept a pay-cut to help the team’s financial difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic.