Earlier reports stated that Argentine football icon Lionel Messi had formally asked to leave FC Barcelona this summer, with the move coming 11 days after the Spanish club’s crushing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals.
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has claimed on social media that FC Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard is looking to sign Argentine football legend Lionel Messi, now that the celebrated athlete is reportedly seeking to part ways with Barcelona.
On Tuesday evening, the former Red Devils captain went on Twitter to suggest that Lampard has set his sights on the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, and wondered if he could “pull it off’, triggering a heated debate among fans.
Just heard Frank Lampard is now in for #messi
Some window this if Lamps pulls this off !!
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) August 25, 2020
Reports in Argentina and Spain on Tuesday evening claimed Messi had sent a burofax to FC Barcelona requesting that the club let him walk free, in line with an exit clause in his last contract.
The reports were later said to have been confirmed by the Spanish club, writes The Independent.
However, the outlet writes that the exit stipulation allowing the footballer, considered one of the best players of all time, to break with La Liga for free is understood to have expired on 10 June.
If that is the case, Messi’s contract, not set to expire until 30 June 2021, now comes with a €700mln release clause.
According to reports, a decision will be taken in the coming days by FC Barcelona’s board.
The Trophy-less Season
Messi, 33, who has scored over 600 goals, won 10 league titles, four Champions Leagues, and six Ballon d’Or awards while playing for Barcelona, where he debuted as a 17-year-old in 2004, had previously set off a spate of speculations about his possible divorce from the club. Throughout a dismal season Messi had voiced his dissatisfaction with the club’s performance.
The rumours gathered steam after Barcelona suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals, wrapping up the conspicuously trophy-less season for the club for the first time since 2007/08.
In the wake of the defeat, coach Quique Setien was sacked and replaced by former Everton and Southampton boss Ronald Koeman as manager.
If the reports of Lionel Messi seeking ‘pastures new’ prove to be true, then only a few clubs like Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Manchester United, besides Chelsea, might also be able to afford signing the forward, who is reportedly worth €565,000 ($645,000) a week.
Chelsea has run up quite a tab already, after summer deals for Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.
When Messi signed a new four-year contract with Barcelona in 2017, the release stipulation was set at £630million ( €700mln; $826.951).