Lionel Messi is so irritated with Barcelona that he could leave when his contract expires next summer.
The 33-year-old is upset that recent reports make him look responsible for the club’s troubles, and he’s frustrated about the squad’s lack of quality, sources told ESPN’s Moises Llorens.
As a result, Messi has declined to enter negotiations over a new contract, according to Cadena Ser’s Manu Carreno, and he could depart after his 17th season with the Blaugrana. If Barcelona can’t repair their relationship with Messi, they could lose the six-time Ballon d’Or winner on a free transfer when his deal runs out in June 2021.
Messi had the opportunity to move on from the club this summer, but a clause allowing him to terminate his contract reportedly expired last month.
The Argentine was given until May to decide, according to Llorens.
Problems initiated in January when Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal suggested the players are to blame for the firing of manager Ernesto Valverde. In an uncharacteristic rebuke, Messi snapped back at Abidal, saying he was “encouraging” rumors and avoiding responsibility.
In April, Messi said he was surprised club officials would question whether the players would accept pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu is looking to reach a new deal with Messi before leaving his post in 2021. Bartomeu was reportedly hoping to sign one of Lautaro Martinez or Neymar to convince Messi the team is still competitive. The pandemic may have changed all that. Barcelona had already lost around €120 million in matchday revenue and TV and commercial income by the start of May, vice president Jordi Cardoner told ESPN.
Messi scored his 700th goal in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid. Barcelona are currently four points behind Real Madrid in the La Liga standings with five matches left.