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