Barcelona pres­i­dent of­fers to re­sign if Messi will re­main at the club

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Mike McGrath

Lionel Messi has been given a clear path­way to stay at Barcelona af­ter Josep Maria Bar­tomeu, the club’s pres­i­dent, of­fered his res­ig­na­tion in re­turn for their great­est player stay­ing at the Nou Camp.

Messi, 33, has in­formed Barcelona he wants to leave af­ter al­most two decades at the club, alert­ing Manch­ester City, In­ter Milan and Paris St-Ger­main that he is avail­able to clubs who can af­ford a deal worth more than £500 mil­lion.

Bar­tomeu has made it clear he would stand down if Messi states pub­licly that he would stay at the club fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion.

Messi’s sit­u­a­tion has been viewed as a power strug­gle be­tween the player and Bar­tomeu’s board, and the pres­i­dent’s of­fer may change Messi’s mind over stay­ing to be part of new man­ager Ron­ald Koe­man’s re­build­ing. Bar­tomeu’s exit, how­ever, would see the board re­main un­til the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, which are sched­uled for March.

Stay­ing at Barcelona would solve a po­ten­tially ugly le­gal bat­tle over whether Messi has suc­cess­fully trig­gered a clause al­low­ing him to leave on a free trans­fer. The club say he has a £631.3mil­lion buy-out ac­tive, with the dis­pute con­cern­ing whether the post-sea­son clause has moved fol­low­ing a de­layed cam­paign due to the pan­demic.

With­out a free trans­fer, Messi would still com­mand a world-record trans­fer fee and wages of about £100 mil­lion a year be­fore tax, which only the likes of City, PSG and In­ter could af­ford.

Fans gath­ered out­side Barcelona’s Nou Camp sta­dium when news broke that Messi had asked to leave.

Messi played un­der City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola while at Barcelona and has main­tained a good re­la­tion­ship with the Spa­niard. Re­ports last night claimed Messi con­tacted his for­mer coach last week to tell him he was quit­ting the Nou Camp. City have stuck to a clear trans­fer pol­icy when it comes to re­fus­ing to over­pay in the mar­ket, al­though Messi has re­mained at Barcelona each time it looked as though there was a pos­si­bil­ity of him leav­ing.

New twist: Lionel Messi could be tempted to change his mind by the board’s of­fer

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