Lionel Messi is officially a free agent after his contract with Barcelona came to an end.
Messi‘s three-year-contract with the club expired at midnight on Thursday, leaving him with the choice of extending it or choosing another team.
The 34-year-old – often regarded as the best footballer in the world – tried to leave Barcelona last summer but had his transfer request rejected.
He claimed he was unhappy with the direction of the team, where he has played for his entire career, and had suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter finals.
The saga rumbled on with several sides, including Paris Saint German and Manchester City, reportedly vying to buy him.
But with his salary thought to be the highest of any athlete in history (£492m over four seasons), there are few clubs able to afford him due to revenue lost from the coronavirus crisis.
Although he failed to sign a contract extension before his current one expired, commentators claim he could be staying at Barcelona.
Messi fell out with the club’s president Josep Maria Baromeu following his denied transfer request, but Bartomeu resigned in October last year.
Negotiations with the Catalan side are believed to be ongoing, but it is not clear when an agreement will be reached.
Barcelona was hit heavily by the COVID pandemic, accumulating debts of one billion euros.
Messi is currently playing for Argentina in the Copa America in Brazil.
He became the highest-capped Argentinian player of all time on Monday after scoring twice in their 4-1 win over Bolivia.
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