Lionel Messi is looking to leave Barcelona at the conclusion of his current deal with the club, set to expire next season, according to reports in Spain.
The Argentine superstar has been at the club for the duration of his career, in which he has swept every club trophy there is to win as well as countless individual accolades, including six Balon d’Ors.
On Wednesday night, the 33-year-old netted his 700th goal for the Spanish giants in their draw with Atletico Madrid in LaLiga as they bid to defend their title from arch rivals Real Madrid.
Lionel Messi could sensationally leave Barcelona at the end of his contract next summer
The Barcelona star, 33, is considering his options amid turmoil within the Spanish club
However, internal turmoil at the club has left Messi questioning his future in Catalonia, with Spanish outlet Cadena SER reporting that the maestro is considering leaving the club once his £500,000-per-week contract expires in 2021.
There is growing discontent among the playing squad with Barcelona coach Quique Setien, who has failed to win over the dressing room since becoming the new coach earlier this season.
The club had held a slim advantage over Madrid in the title race before the coronavirus lockdown, but are now on the backfoot in their bid to retain the league title. They are four points behind Los Blancos with five games remaining.
Reports from Spain suggest the Barca captain does not see eye to eye with Quique Setien
Barcelona have lost their slim advantage over Real Madrid in their bid to defend the LaLiga title
There is also said to be growing tension between Messi and the club’s £108million signing Antoine Griezmann. Ever since the return of training, the pair have not been in the same group during small games.
The club’s hierarchy, specifically president Josep Bartomeu, has also been at war with the players for some time, with tensions boiling over during the coronavirus lockdown when the club looked to negotiate a wage cut with its players owing to the financial ramifications of the suspension of football in Spain.
Allegations had emerged that the players were being selfish in refusing to take a pay cut, in which Messi responded calling out the Barcelona board.
Tension is also rife between Messi and the board, which peaked during a wage cut dispute
Messi wrote on his Instagram page: ‘It never ceases to amaze us that from within the club there were those who tried to put us under the magnifying glass, adding pressure for us to do what we were always going to do anyway.
‘In fact, if we waited a few days it was only because we were trying to find a formula to help the club and its workers in such difficult times.’
The goalscoring machine has also been linked with a return to his homeland at the conclusion of his tenure with Barcelona.
Cristian D’Amico, vice-president of Newell’s Old Boys, where Messi played before being signed by Barca at the age of 14, has revealed the 33-year-old could make a sensational return to his childhood club.
‘It’s a decision exclusively made by him and his family,’ he told TNT Sports. ‘We have to have the best possible context to help make a decision.
‘When Maradona came to Newell’s, nobody thought that he would come either. I hope to do something similar with Leo.’
D’Amico added: ‘Obviously, that’s not to be selling smoke. It’s a difficult topic.
‘What Newell’s fan would not dream to see the best player in the world with the jersey of their team on? Time might allow such things, you have to be calm.’
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