After 16 seasons in the Barcelona first team, Lionel Messi wants to leave the club.
This is what he communicated to the club in a burofax – a certified delivery of documents – that was sent to the club on Tuesday evening.
Messi is looking to leave the club for free, pointing to the clause in his contract that allows him to unilaterally leave at the end of each season.
In theory, this clause had to be activated before June 10, 20 days before the end of the usual footballing year, but the unusual circumstances of the coronavirus-enforced pause in the season mean that he hopes to achieve a rescinding of his contact now during the delayed off-season.
The argument is that the spirit of the clause was for a decision to be made in the few weeks following the end of a season and there are documents that are signed by Barcelona and by FIFA that express the belief that a season finishes when the final match is played.
Barcelona, though, are insisting that the unilateral clause in Messi‘s contract completely expired on June 10 and that the player’s contract is fully active.
They communicated their stance in a burofax of their own, that was sent back to Messi‘s people, at the same time as saying that they hope he can complete his career at the Camp Nou.
It’s clear that the club and the player have different stances in this matter and it’s likely to go down to the small print.
Meanwhile, the Barcelona fans and the world of football in general have reacted.
As president Josep Maria Bartomeu met with directors in an emergency meeting on Tuesday night, a group of supporters gathered outside the Camp Nou to call for the president’s resignation.
The police had to come and break up the crowd, due to coronavirus rules.
Other figures in the Barcelona world also called for Bartomeu to resign, while figures such as Carles Puyol sent support to Messi.
This is a saga that only seems to be beginning and it’s one that could become a tense legal battle.