One of the greatest players in the world is now officially a free agent, the contract of Argentine superstar Lionel Messi expired at midnight.
Despite months of gossip and speculation, he failed to commit to the extension.
Yes, 12 months after his aborted attempts to leave Barcelona, Lionel Messi has now expired the contract with Barcelona.
Negotiations over a new contract are believed to be ongoing, which means Messi could decide to stay at the Nou Camp. But, for now, he is not available for anything.
Where will Messi play for next season?
Barcelona had “increased the level of urgency” in contract negotiations, hoping to announce a two-year deal before the start of July.
Messi’s renewal of the contract of new President Joan Laporta is the most important thing for him. And he is currently in direct talks with Messi’s father and representative, Jorge Messi.
To keep Argentina, the club will have to reduce their salary by 200m euros (£ 172m) to meet La Liga’s Financial Fair Play requirements.
Messi is aware of interest from other clubs. But he has not discussed anything with them so far, waiting to hear what Barcelona has to offer.
The 34-year-old has been linked with moves to Paris St-Germain and Manchester City, where he will reunite with his former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola and Major League Soccer in the United States.
He is currently in Brazil playing for Argentina in the Copa America and became their all-time leading scorer in 148 games against Bolivia on Tuesday, scoring two goals and making another 4-1 win.
The timeline of Lionel Messi’s transfer.
25 August 2020 – Messi sends a fax to the club stating that he wishes to apply the clause in his contract, allowing him to leave for free immediately.
4 September 2020 – Messi says he stays in Barcelona because it is “impossible” for either team to pay his release fee of 700m euro (£ 624m), which the club insists would have to be met.
27 October 2020 – Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who has been at loggerheads with Messi over his failed transfer request, resigns.
28 December 2020 – Messi says he hopes to play in the United States one day but is unsure of his future when his contract expires.
31 January 2021 – Barcelona says it will take “appropriate legal action” against Spanish newspaper El Mundo after publishing details of Messi’s contract, worth £ 492m over four years.
16 May 2021 – Manager Ronald Koeman says he hopes Messi did not play in his club’s last home game after a 2-1 defeat by Celta Vigo ended their hopes of winning the title and finishing the top two for the first time since 2007-08.
22 May 2021 – Paris St-Germain is believed to be “closely monitoring” the status of Messi’s contract.
28 May 2021 – Barcelona president Joan Laporta says Lionel Messi‘s new contract is “not yet done,” but “things are going well.”
1 July 2021 – Messi Barcelona’s contract expires, and he becomes a free agent.