• Messi's contract clause that could see him leave as a free agent has reportedly expired
  • The clause was added in Messi's contract in 2017
  • Messi has been associated with the club since he was 13

Lionel Messi has reportedly not activated the clause in his contract that would have allowed him to leave Barcelona as a free agent at the end of this season.

Messi had signed a new contract in 2017, which included a condition that he could leave the club for free at the end of any given season, provided he informed the club about his intentions before June 1 of each year, as reported by Goal.

Ever since former Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti claimed Messi joining the Serie A club was not a “forbidden dream”, there have been rumors about Messi’s possible departure from Nou Camp at the end of the 2019-20 season. The internal politics and his fallout with Barcelona’s sporting director Eric Abidal further strengthen the rumors.

There are still doubts about the Argentinean’s future at Barcelona beyond next season. However, last November, the Catalans’ chief Josep Maria Bartomeu had insisted that the club wants to ensure their best player continues to play for the Blaugrana for many more years to come.

Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Granada on Sunday in Quique Setien's first game in charge.
Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Granada on Sunday in Quique Setien's first game in charge. AFP / LLUIS GENE

“Surely it will be the wish of all parties, if he feels strong and ambitious, to extend this contract indefinitely. Ultimately it is he who must decide. He has earned the right to decide when he will stop playing football. But he wants to finish his playing career at Barcelona."

"Over the next two or three seasons, our leader will continue to be Leo Messi. There's no doubt that he is still young, still strong. He is still ambitious. So, Leo Messi will still play with us for the next two, three, four or five years. I have no doubts about that,” said Bartomeu in an interview.

Messi and Barcelona are set to return to action on June 13 after a gap of nearly two months amid the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The Spanish giants, who are two points clear on the top of the La Liga table, will play against Real Mallorca, two days after the season gets back underway with Sevilla vs Real Betis.