An allegiance that has run for over two decades made no Barcelona fan ever fathom this. Lionel Messi, who was born far away from Catalunya in his homeland Argentina -- on this very day 34 years ago -- only to become their very own through the club's youth system La Masia, will give up on what's been called Mes Que Un Club; plainly and proudly translated by their fans to 'more than a club'.
Last year's controversial tiff with the club saw Messi make his resentments against then-Barca president Josep Bartomeu apparent over broken promises made to him and had no second thoughts on leaving the club, only to be eventually forced to stay. However, this time the fear is far worse as just six days remain in the contract that runs out on June 30 at midnight. More so, when Messi remains evasive about future commitments.
Of course, one might argue that the Argentine magician is focused on achieving his ultimate dream of winning a major title with the national team at the ongoing Copa America. However, when one deduces that with the last-eight qualification confirmed and a dead rubber against lowly Bolivia five days away and that Messi still can't find time for the already-prepared new Barcelona contract, it makes little sense.
To those unaware, the club's current president, Joan Laporta, who has maintained strong relations with the player over the years, already made it public that Messi's new contract is ready and just requires his signature. However, given the club's huge debts, it's no secret that the new contract offered can't match his current lucrative deal that costs the club more than 100 million euros per annum. In fact, Laporta also publically admitted that they can't afford Messi's current wages.
The club has instead tried to make up for it by securing a long-term relationship with the player where he will be remunerated by the club handsomely even after his retirement in the years to come.
However, with Gulf-state backed clubs like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain reportedly making offers which not just match his current pay but exceed it, must be tempting and challenging for a player who won't mind a new challenge in his career when he has often been called one-dimensional for succeeding the Barca way.
And with no major titles (Copa Del Rey the only success) coming using the tried and tested formula of the Catalans over the last two seasons, gives Messi more reason to leave the cash-strapped club.
In fact, he himself has given no assurance to fans on his future. Messi's last statement on his transfer came back in December last year when he said he doesn't want to talk about his future until the end of the season but has been keeping mum on the issue at all Copa America press conferences he attended; not to forget his face was missing from Barcelona's 2021-22 season kit launch.
However, all hopes are not lost for Barca fans as his father Jorge Messi reportedly met with Laporta for a lunch in mid-April and that suggested that a lot could be happening behind the scenes and most importantly, not to forget the bond and love he shares with the million fans of the club.