Report: Barcelona Think Lionel Messi Must Sit out Next Season to Leave for Free

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2020

Barcelona's Lionel Messi looks on during the Champions League quarterfinal match between FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez/Pool)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

After getting support from La Liga about Lionel Messi's contract terms, Barcelona believe the superstar would have to sit out the 2020-21 season in order to leave on a free transfer, according to Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens of ESPN.

Messi has a release clause in his contract that requires payment of €700 ($843.7 million) for him to leave Barcelona. 

Though the forward had a "termination clause" that allowed him to end his contract at the conclusion of each season, La Liga confirmed the deadline of June 26 had passed. Messi's side argues the deadline should be changed as the end of the season was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 33-year-old did not report for COVID-19 testing at the start of training camp for Barcelona Sunday, per Marsden and Llorens. His legal team has advised him not to take part in the preseason to continue the claim that his contract has already been terminated.

These disagreements could lead to the player's future being settled in court.

If he does leave Barcelona, Messi is reportedly likely to move to Manchester City, per ESPNSport (h/t Marcareported the Premier League club would offer a contract worth €750 million ($895 million) over five years that would include three seasons at Manchester City and two in the MLS with NYCFC.

The start of the deal would create one of the top attacks in the world, with Messi playing alongside Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and others.

Manchester City led the Premier League with 102 goals last year and would be even better after adding a player who has six Ballon d'Or awards as the best player in the world. Messi remained productive in 2019-20 with 25 goals and 21 assists in La Liga.

However, it's unlikely he would be willing to sit out a year at his age, creating plenty of question marks about his future.