Lionel Messi has reportedly told F.C. Barcelona that he will be leaving, worsening the crisis currently surrounding the club. Messi has been with the club since he was just 12 years old, over which time he was broken almost every record, won the Ballon d’Or six times and, arguably, established himself as the greatest ever footballer.

According to reports about his desire to leave, Messi has told Barcelona of his wish to activate a clause in his contract that would allow him to cancel his contract unilaterally. Barcelona are believed to demand a fee for the player, arguing that the contractual clause expired on June 10.

The major stumbling block for teams wishing to sign Messi is his current salary, believed to be £26 million GBP (approximately $34.15 million USD). This hugely narrows the number of teams able to pay Messi’s wages, with only super rich clubs including Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain currently linked with the Argentinian forward, while Inter Milan are also rumored to be preparing an approach.

While it is a shock that Messi has reportedly chosen to leave the club, speculation over his future has intensified since Barcelona lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich earlier this month. The club has announced a clear out of many of its ageing players while new manager Ronald Koeman publicly expressed his hope that Messi would finish his career at Barcelona.

The news of his prospective departure was first broken by Spanish publication TyC, which reported that Messi had informed the club following a meeting with Koeman. Since then, former Barcelona captain Carles Puyol tweeted his “respect and admiration” for Messi.

Keep an eye out for more news on the Lionel Messi situation in the coming days. In other sports news, here’s everything you need to know about the Oakland Roots.

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