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Lionel Messi May Reportedly Backtrack on Barcelona Leave as He Seeks Exit in Friendly Manner

Although Barca superstar Lionel Messi voiced a clear intention last week to leave his long-time club, it appears he does not want to leave in a way that could tarnish his legacy and may be prepared to stay with the Catalans a little longer, Marca reported.

According to the Spanish edition, President Josep Maria Bartomeu is in no way set to back down in terms of the hefty release clause the receiving side should pay for Messi in the event of a transfer, and Messi does not want to be involved in a court case to have his contract terminated.

It remains to be seen whether Messi will return to training in the next few days, which would confirm his change of heart.

Messi, who has been with the Catalan club for 20 years, last week told the team's bosses that he wants to quit following a humiliating 2-8 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinal.

Meanwhile, Messi and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola had a lengthy phone talk earlier this week, although it remains unclear if a potential move to City was discussed, according to El Chiringuito's Cristobal Soria.

The Spanish outlet claimed at the time that the Argentine told Guardiola during the phone conversation that he is striving to win the Ballon d'Or in both the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.

The two remain close since their time together at Camp Nou when they twice won the Champions League - a fact that has solidified rumours that a Man City transfer is Messi's favourite option.

Man City are reportedly desperate to become Europe's all-time grandees and Messi is seen as a much-sought after signing that may finally make it possible, the Spanish media reported.

On Tuesday, Messi told Barca via burofax that he sought to leave Camp Nou, where he first started playing in his early teens.

He has grown increasingly frustrated not only with the team's recent Champions League failures and his relationship with Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barca's president, which has purportedly deteriorated in recent months.

Yet, Spanish media outlets have reported that the businessman voiced a preparedness to step down if Messi decides not to leave the squad. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner reportedly didn't respond to the claim.

Whatever the rumours and media speculation, Barcelona are not budging from their position, while awaiting direct negotiations with Messi. They will reportedly not sell the football ace unless his release clause is met.

"Either it's to renew [his contract] or there's nothing to discuss", the Catalan club were cited by Marca as saying over the potential talks last week.

Therefore, either a new club pays 700 million euros to sign Messi or he carries on at Camp Nou until his contract expires next September.

© AP Photo / Andres Kudacki
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi from Argentina, front celebrates with his teammates after the final Copa del Rey soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Friday, May 25, 2012.

UK tabloid the Daily Record reported last Wednesday that Man City’s owners, City Football Group, had agreed to buy out Messi on a five-year deal. While the news is yet to be confirmed, Messi would then, if proved true, become the most expensive football player in history, beating his former teammate Neymar's move to Paris Saint-Germain for €222 million in 2017. Previous reports suggested that Man City is ready to pay €500 million to sign Messi.

Given that the Argentine ace’s contract expires in July 2021, he will be able to start talks with other clubs in just four months and even sign a pre-contract agreement ahead of a free transfer next summer, according to The Telegraph.

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