Lionel Messi reportedly has a clause in his new contract that will allow him to leave Barcelona for free should Catalonia gain independence and the club be affected as a result.
According to El Mundo (h/t Marca), if Barcelona were to enter a Catalan-only league, Messi has an agreement in place with the club that his €700 million release clause will be invalid and he can leave for free.
However, Sport reported there was no clause regarding Catalonia in Messi's new deal.
Per Gary Stonehouse of The Sun, Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu has confirmed the club would discuss the possibility of playing in another of Europe's top leagues should Catalonia become independent from Spain.
Messi is said to be open to remaining at the club were they to join the Premier League, Ligue 1 or the Bundesliga, while he'd naturally stay put if Barcelona continue to ply their trade in La Liga, which is the most likely scenario.
The report made the newspaper's cover:
EL MUNDO @elmundoes
#LaPortada del viernes 5 de enero. https://t.co/PUmufV0y8B2018-1-4 22:31:17
Three pro-independence parties held onto their parliamentary majority in the region in snap elections held shortly before Christmas as they won 70 of the 135 seats between them, though the pro-unionist Citizens party claimed the most of any single group with 37.
Messi was in the final year of his contract at the Camp Nou before he put pen to paper on his new deal in November.
The 30-year-old has been a dominant force in European football for quite some time, as The Sportsman demonstrated on Twitter:
The Sportsman @TheSportsman
🐐 Since 2012 in Europe Top 5 Leagues... - Most Goals: Lionel Messi - Most Assists: Lionel Messi - Most Dribbles: Lionel Messi - Most Hattricks: Lionel Messi - Most Freekicks: Lionel Messi - Most Through Balls: Lionel Messi - Most Chances Created: Lionel Messi G.O.A.T https://t.co/v8vRbzhVux2017-12-29 09:46:07
Losing him for free would be disastrous, but it's not likely to happen—as Marca noted, there are significant legal and practical issues that would arise in Barcelona leaving La Liga, and it's not in the club's best interest to do so either, particularly if they were to play outside of one of Europe's top leagues.