Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed that Lionel Messi does have an option to quit Barcelona at the end of the season, while attempting to downplay fears.
Spanish newspaper El Pais broke the news on Thursday that Messi’s current contract allows him to leave at the end of each season.
The Argentine superstar signed this deal back in 2017, where he committed his future until 2021 and agreed to a €700m buyout clause.
Following Thursday’s bombshell, however, fears have stirred up at Camp Nou over a potential exit for Messi next summer. While the idea may seem unimaginable to most, nobody saw Cristiano Ronaldo walking out of Real Madrid either.
And now Barcelona president Bartomeu has likely fueled those fears by confirming El Pais’ report to be correct.
Although he did attempt to calm things down by pointing out that past Blaugrana greats like Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Carles Puyol all had similar deals to what Messi has now.
“Messi has a contract that we signed two years ago and it runs for four years,” Bartomeu told the club’s website.
“Before the last season, 2020-21, he can leave Barcelona, retire from football or play where he likes.
“Iniesta, Xavi and Puyol also had those clauses. For those players and Leo Messi, we don’t need to worry.
“I doubt he’d want to play for another club, but he has earned liberty over his future. He’s a big Barca fan and I have no doubt he’ll want to continue until 2021 and we hope another year too.”
Messi has managed an incredible 603 goals and 242 assists in 687 appearances for Barcelona across all competitions.
The 32-year-old has literally won every major club honour during his Camp Nou career, which will span two decades should he see out his current contract.