Lionel Messi made his debut for Barcelona in 2004 and has won a record six Ballon d'Or awards since then

Guwahati: Legendary Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona that he wishes to leave the club immediately.

Barcelona on Tuesday confirmed that Messi sent a fax to the club saying he wishes to exercise a clause in his contract, permitting him to leave for free with immediate effect.

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However, according to Barcelona, the clause has now terminated and Messi is contracted to the club until 2021 with a 700m euro buy-out clause. This would imply that the only way Messi can leave without the club’s consent is if a rival side pays his release clause of 700 million euros ($828m).

A legal battle is set to follow between the club and the player. Messi had a clause in his contract which permitted him to leave for free, in the event that he informed the club regarding the same before 10 June.

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The announcement expressing the desire to exit the club comes 11 days after Barcelona’s humiliating exit in the Champions League quarterfinals, where they were handed one of the worst defeats in the club’s history against Bayern Munich by 8-2.

The board will meet soon to discuss the situation regarding Messi, and some consider the only thing that could placate Messi is the resignation of the president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, and early elections. But Messi seems very much determined to leave the club, no matter what.

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Messi is arguably the greatest player in soccer history, and if he is able to exit Barcelona for free, he will have no shortage of suitors. However, only a handful of clubs could actually afford to pay his wages even without a transfer fee. The mega-rich Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City seem to be very probable destinations for the Argentine star in that case.

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