Lionel Messi 'could leave Barca on a free' post-Catalan independence

If La Liga removes Catalonian clubs from the league then a clause may kick in in Messi’s contract

Lionel Messi may leave Barcelona on a free transfer if Catalonia gains independence, due to a clause in his contract. Photo: Getty Images

Lionel Messi may leave Barcelona on a free transfer if Catalonia gains independence, due to a clause in his contract. Photo: Getty Images

 

Lionel Messi could leave FC Barcelona without a transfer fee if Catalonia secedes from Spain and the club does not compete in any of Europe’s top four leagues, Spanish newspaper El Mundo has reported, citing a clause in his new contract.

Barça’s all-time top scorer signed the contract in November, seven months before his old deal expired. It runs until June 2021 and contains a €700m ($843m) buy-out clause.

But according to the Spanish paper it would also allow the five-times world player of the year to leave the club where he has spent his entire career for free if Catalonia’s independence push resulted in Barça exiting Spain’s top flight and not joining either the Premier League, the Bundesliga or Serie A.

A Barca spokesman said: “In the interests of confidentiality the club never comments on contracts signed with players and never will.”

Messi’s management team could not immediately be reached for comment.

The political crisis triggered by Catalonia’s independence drive remains unresolved after separatists won a slim parliamentary majority in a regional election last month.

Messi’s latest contract was signed on November 25th, before that vote but after an autumn referendum on independence that authorities in Madrid declared illegal.

The referendum had direct ramifications for FC Barcelona who, on the day it was held, chose to play their La Liga game against Las Palmas behind closed doors in response to police violence against would-be voters.

The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, has repeatedly said Barcelona would be booted out of the Spanish league along with all other Catalan clubs in the event of secession, as only teams from Spain and Andorra are entitled to compete in the Spanish leagues.

Barca, who have won 24 Liga titles and lead this season’s standings by nine points, said after the referendum they would not speculate on the future.

However, they were “not planning for any other scenario than playing in the Spanish league. The club is competing in this competition and wants to win it”. – Guardian service

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