‘Fake’: Argentine media claim Messi coup with first quotes since decision to quit Barcelona – but veracity is questioned
Argentine media outlet La Nacion has claimed to have gained a first direct insight into Lionel Messi’s decision to quit Barcelona, citing sources close to the player, although the veracity of the report has questioned.
Messi dropped a bombshell on the footballing world on Tuesday when he informed Barcelona by fax that he wants to leave the club this summer.
The 33-year-old cited a clause in his contract which allows him to leave for free at the end of each season – an agreement which he says is still in force due to the prolonged campaign caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Barcelona officials insist however that the clause expired in June, meaning Messi is under contract at the Nou Camp until the summer of 2021.
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Messi has not yet spoken publicly about his decision, although leading Argentine outlet La Nacion quoted a source close to the star as supposedly explaining his decision.
“I made the decision with [wife] Antonela to leave Barca. It hurts my soul, but that’s it. The chapter has been closed,” the outlet reported Messi as saying.
— LA NACION (@LANACION) August 26, 2020
The outlet further claims that Messi has set his heart on reuniting with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City – but the piece has been refuted by respected Spanish football reporter Guillem Balagué, who claims the basis for the report is fake.
Ese audio es de un imitador, hombre 🤣🤣🤣
FAKE audio of Messi talking about City doing the rounds https://t.co/J7vxr44HNu
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) August 26, 2020
Guardiola is said to have spoken with Messi last week in the wake of Barcelona’s stunning 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, while further reports stated this week that the English club are looking at how financially feasible a swoop for Messi would be.
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A major sticking point will be whether Messi is allowed to walk away from the Nou Camp for free, as he believes he is entitled to, or whether Barcelona can command a transfer fee for him.
His release clause is officially set at €700 million ($830 million), but failing that it is understood that the club would at least demand a world record fee for the star – eclipsing the €222 million that Paris Saint-Germain paid Barca for Neymar in the summer of 2017.