Captain Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wishes to leave the club immediately, a source confirmed on Tuesday.
Africa Tembelea understands lawyers for the Argentina star sent Barca a fax in which they announced Messi’s desire to rescind his contract by triggering a release clause.
However, the club maintains the clause expired in June and he remains under contract until the end of the 2021 season.
“In principial, this clause expired on June 10, but the unusual nature of this season disrupted by the coronavirus opened the way for Messi to ask to be released from his contract now,” wrote Spanish sports daily Marca.
“It’s the first step towards opening negotiations over his departure, on the basis of which his release clause amounts to 700 million euros.”
According to Spanish media, Messi met with new Barca coach Ronald Koeman last week and told the Dutchman he saw himself “more out than in” the club.
Messi joined Barca’s youth academy at the age of 13 and made his debut for Barca in 2004 as a 17-year-old.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is the club’s record scorer with 634 goals and has won the Champions League four times.
But his future at Barca was thrown into doubt following a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in Lisbon 11 days ago. Bayern’s demolition exposed Barca’s ageing team for what Messi has been saying all along – they are simply not good enough.