Lionel Messi’s whole club soccer career has been played at Barcelona, but he’s now asked to leave with immediate effect.
He may be its record goalscorer and have won 34 major honours there, but Messi has put Europe’s major clubs on alert with a transfer request sent by fax on Tuesday (August 25)
The 33-year-old wants to exercise a clause in his contract that would enable him to leave for free, but Barcelona aren’t letting go of their prized asset so easily.
It says that possibility expired on June 10 and the only way out for him now is if another club pays his release fee of $828 million.
That would break the current world record transfer fee three and a half times over.
Hundreds of fans gathered outside the club's Nou Camp stadium pleading with Messi to stay.
It’s the latest twist in what is already a turbulent period for Barcelona.
Humiliation by Bayern Munich in the Champions League this month left it without a trophy for the first time since 2012.
Reports from Spain say that new head coach Ronald Koeman told Messi that his quote “privileges are over”, which appears to have been the final straw for the player.
Messi has been named world player of the year a record six times and helped Barcelona to four European Cups, but has grown increasingly unhappy in the last 12 months with how the club is being run.