The Barcelona board of directors has reportedly held an "internal debate" about whether to make superstar forward Lionel Messi available for transfer before the 2020-21 La Liga season.
ESPN's Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden reported Friday the Blaugrana's general outlook remains keyed on keeping Messi as the focal point of the club, but some board members told ESPN they "wouldn't be against selling him in the right circumstances."
Barca hired Ronald Koeman as their new manager Wednesday, and the 57-year-old told reporters he wanted the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to stay at Camp Nou:
"We need to work with him and speak with various players. We need to make some decisions, but in Messi's case, I hope he stays with us.
"I don't know if I have to convince Messi [to stay], whether it's that or not. He is the best player in the world and the best player in the world you want in your team, you don't want him playing against you.
"As a coach, I would love to work with Messi because he wins matches. If he's at the ability and level he has always shown, I'd be more than happy for him to stay."
Barcelona seem set to undergo changes after a disappointing campaign in which they failed to win a trophy and suffered an embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals.
Messi has already reached out to Koeman to express displeasure about potential moves amid rumors of exits for Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba, per ESPN.
The 33-year-old Argentine legend has downplayed previous speculation about a possible departure from Barcelona, including when he claimed last year's Ballon d'Or trophy.
"The people at the club know me," he said. "They know there's no problem beyond what the contract says. What I feel for this club goes beyond any signature or any role. So there isn't a problem."
His current deal runs to June 30, 2021.
There are a finite number of clubs in the world with the financial resources to even make a legitimate offer for Messi, and there's no word that any teams have approached Barca with serious interest.
Nevertheless, it appears more offseason rumors about his future awaits as Barcelona decide how to restructure the club after nearly two decades of success with Messi leading the charge.