The sports world isn’t quite yet done coming to terms that Lionel Messi has demanded to leave Barcelona by activating a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave on a free transfer.
The 33-year-old has sent a fax to Barcelona communicating his intention to leave behind the club he's played at for 20 years.
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Arguably the greatest ever footballer, Messi has become synonymous with the Barcelona jersey and many thought he would retire at his boyhood club.
But after prominent journalists reported Messi had told the club he wanted to leave, it sent Twitter into meltdown with the gravitas of the situation.
Most consequential sports fax since Michael Jordan announced: "I'm back." Top Argentine sources reporting Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona he is leaving the club. https://t.co/efQOyVndLJ— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 25, 2020
Over 10 million Tweets on Lionel Messi in just 12 Hours and still counting 😱— Mᴏʜᴀɴ (@PSYCHOC_) August 26, 2020
Messi has broken the Internet for the second time, This man is greater than football itself. 🐐⚽#Messi pic.twitter.com/Ne57g0xYEa
While many were startled at the enormity of the news, others were wondering who could possibly sign the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Just heard Frank Lampard is now in for #messi— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) August 25, 2020
Some window this if Lamps pulls this off !!
Lionel Messi is on about £100m a year according to Football Leaks. Even on a free transfer anyone who wants him would have to spend £300m to give him a three-year contract. In the middle of a pandemic when grounds are empty. Unless he’s up for a big pay cut. And he’s 33.— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) August 25, 2020
While fans and even rival codes jumped in on the act and showed their humour at signing the legendary footballer.
This included NBA team the Chicago Bulls, the Spurs but also unwillingly, and racing team Honda.
Apparently this Messi guy is pretty good. pic.twitter.com/rdZenfRSrg— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) August 25, 2020
Way Messi has asked to leave feels pretty old school. Barcelona say Messi sent a “burofax” asking to leave the club. I had to google “burofax”. It is a real thing.— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) August 25, 2020
Sterling Aguero Messi starting with Torres Jesus Mahrez backup?pic.twitter.com/i9GAzL2rzV— City Chief (@City_Chief) August 26, 2020
Breaking News— DanaShyte💩 (@DanaShyte) August 25, 2020
The rumours were right...
Lionel Messi has signed a 1 fight deal with the UFC. pic.twitter.com/Ogf3uoAgAL
Previously unreleased footage of Lionel Messi showing his love for Rangers...👀🔴⚪🔵 pic.twitter.com/Pk8guDdes7— Steven Souness (@StevenSouness) August 25, 2020
While it is fair to say this transfer saga is far from over and there is no guarantee Messi will leave the Camp Nou, it could just be the biggest transfer across any sport of all time.
Messi will push for Barcelona exit
Although the forward’s contract is set to expire at the end of the 2020-21 season, Messi and his legal team believe the clause will allow him to terminate his deal unilaterally.
Messi has a 700-million-euro ($A1.1 billion) release clause in his contract but had a written agreement that he could leave for free if he notified the club of his desire before June 10.
Barcelona chiefs will insist the deadline has now passed, with Messi's team arguing that it should be extended due to the longer-than-usual season, which ran until August because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It's set to usher a fierce legal battle between player and club, with Messi's signature undoubtedly one of the hottest propositions in world football for clubs waiting on the outcome.
Rumours of Messi's unhappiness have been swirling since Bayern Munich humiliated Barcelona 8-2 in the Champions League quarter-final earlier in August, ending a season that saw the club fail to win any trophies.