MESSI COULD LEAVE FOR FREE
...if Catalonia gain independence and Barcelona lose spot in La Liga
BARCELONA - Despite signing a new deal at Barcelona and penning the most lucrative contract in world football, Lionel Messi could sensationally leave the Spanish giants for free... should Catalonia succeed in its bid for independence.
The autonomous region made international headlines last year after hosting its own unofficial referendum and bidding to force through a move to establish independence from Spain.
Catalans saw heavy police intervention as a result, as the state sought to intervene on what it deemed to be an illegal act. As the story rumbles on however, the implications on the football landscape have now emerged. Voting overwhelmingly fell in favour of Catalonian independence, though the outcome was swiftly rejected by the state.
Should events progress further in 2018 however, and Catalonia get its independence wish, Barcelona could find themselves on uncertain ground.
The 24-times league championship winners could see themselves ejected from La Liga as a result, in a move that would have a huge knock-on effect across the squad.
The shockwaves could go all the way to the top, with Messi’s status at the club potentially coming under threat.
As revealed by Spanish outlet El Mundo, the Argentine superstar has a clause written into his contract stating he can depart the club if they are not competing in one of Europe’s top five divisions.
A La Liga exit would leave Barcelona in the tricky situation of having to negotiate a new division to play in, an unprecedented move for elite European football.
At present Barca find themselves in the most comfortable of positions, riding high in La Liga with a nine-point lead and sitting pretty in the Champions League last 16.