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    Messi will only stay if Bartomeu quits, Barcelona presidential candidate claims

    Barca should not give up on retaining the Argentina international, but it means the president will need to step down immediately

    Lionel Messi will only stay at Barcelona if Josep Maria Bartomeu resigns, according to presidential candidate Victor Font.

    Messi rocked Barcelona on Tuesday when it emerged the six-time Ballon d’Or winner informed the club he wants to leave.

    The 33-year-old reportedly has a clause in his contract that would allow him to unilaterally terminate their agreement following the 2019-20 season in order to join another club.

    While it was required to be activated before the end of May, Messi told the Catalan giants he still intends to make use of the clause as the season was extended into August due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    According to reports, Messi suggested to new head coach Ronald Koeman last week that he was leaning towards a departure, and it is thought he committed to that decision after close friend Luis Suarez was apparently told his services were no longer required.

    Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Inter are thought to be the most likely options for him, though Font still feels Barca have a chance to change Messi’s mind if president Bartomeu – who is set to leave his post after the club’s elections next March – quits immediately.

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    “If there is any option for Messi to stay, no matter how small, it goes through the resignation of Bartomeu,” Font said on Onda Cero radio show ‘El Transistor’.

    “Messi has been here for 20 years, making that decision will have cost him a lot but it indicates his degree of frustration here.

    “This board will leave with this departure on its CV. After the 8-2 [Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich], we thought we had hit rock bottom, but we hadn’t.

    “Leo is a legend of Barcelona, I cannot imagine that his departure will be determined in court; I hope, for the good of the institution, that we know how to handle his departure well.

    “Messi’s entourage has told me that the decision is firm. This is not a matter of two days ago, it is before the defeat in Lisbon. We already warned that it could happen.”

    Messi has already held talks with Pep Guardiola over a potential move to Manchester City , Goal has revealed.

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