MESSI COULD LEAVE FOR FREE

...if Cat­alo­nia gain in­de­pen­dence and Barcelona lose spot in La Liga

Observer on Saturday - - Sport - Daily Mail

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.

Win­ners

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.

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