Correspondent OLUWAMAYOMIKUN OREKOYA reports on the wheeling and dealing in the on-going summer transfers across Europe..
A huge bombshell hit the world of football on Tuesday’s evening when Lionel Messi informed Barcelona that he wants to leave the club and terminate his contract this summer.
Messi has had enough of carrying the weight of the Camp Nou on his shoulders and wants to move elsewhere, a state of affairs that has prompted immediate speculation he could be off to Manchester City or PSG, the only two teams that can realistically afford to trigger his release clause should he hand in a transfer request.
The Argentine reportedly faxed his club a document asking for his contract to be terminated, which would allow him to leave for free this summer.
Barca, though, won’t let him go that easily. Although Messi does have a clause in his contract that allows him to walk away every year, the Blaugrana will claim that it expired in June.
The player, on the other hand, will argue – due to the exceptional circumstances of this season – that it’s still valid. It looks like this one will be settled in court.
The outcome is not yet clear, of course, but one thing certainly is – Messi doesn’t want to play at Camp Nou next season.
Barcelona sporting director Ramon Planes has insisted the club have no desire to let Lionel Messi go.
Speaking at the official unveiling of new signing Francisco Trincao, Planes said the Spanish giants are ‘working internally to convince Leo’ to stay after he handed in a transfer request.
“This is indeed a very important story, but our idea at the club is still to build a new winning cycle around the best player in the world. We are not contemplating any kind of departure because what we want is for Messi to stay,” he said.
“We only have enormous respect for Leo Messi. Barça and Leo are like a marriage, where both have given so much to each other, and have brought so much joy to the fans.
“I think the future is positive. I am an optimist. We need experienced players, like Leo Messi, as well as players for the team’s future.
“We are putting every effort into ensuring that the relationship between Barça and Messi will continue. We are working internally to convince Leo”.
So what happens to Barcelona if Messi really leaves? Well, the club might need to start looking at replacements for the greatest player of all time.
According to reports the club has set their eyes on a number of big name players and Sadio Mane is one of those who have already been offered to the Blaugrana.
The Liverpool superstar was key to his club’s first-ever Premier League title-winning season and was also a standout performer when they won the Champions League the year before.
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Mane would certainly be an exciting replacement for Messi and Barcelona, according to sources, believe that a bid of €120m will be enough to start negotiations with Anfield.
Another player that is expected to move in a few days is Thiago Alcantara since Liverpool has been heavily linked with a move for the Bayern Munich midfielder.
Liverpool are reportedly interested in the 29-year-old, who is looking for a new challenge after playing a leading role in Bayern’s Champions League triumph ;but Thiago is waiting for Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards to launch an offer for his services.
The Spain international has entered the final season of his contract at the Allianz Arena after turning down offers to extend his terms and a transfer fee of £27million likely to be enough for his services.
Chelsea are among the busiest of the Premier League clubs in this summer’s transfer window.