Football’s marriage made in heaven is about to come crashing as Lionel Messi is said to be set to depart Barcelona in 2021 when his contract runs out.
According to Spanish radio network Cadena Ser, Messi has called off negotiations over renewing his current deal with the club and is ready to leave the Catalans next year.
Messi and his father, Jorge, had begun talks over renewing his latest contract, which was signed back in 2017.
But they no longer wish to advance negotiations and ESPN reports that the reasons behind the decision are down to a several off-field bust-ups.
It is reported that Messi is angry with Barca’s board about leaked media reports that appeared to make him seem responsible for events at the club.
This included being accused of being the key factor behind the January sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde.
The 33-year-old is also allegedly frustrated about the quality of Barcelona’s squad.
Once considered a shy personality, Messi has become increasingly outspoken in his criticism of the club this year.
A report by SunSport revealed back in January Messi’s angry reaction to Eric Abidal’s claim that some players downed tools under Valverde.
Barca’s sporting director alleged that a large section of the dressing room were under-performing towards the end of the Spaniard’s reign.
However, Messi, hit back on Instagram to accuse his former teammate of tarnishing the players’ reputations and demand that the former defender take responsibility for his own decisions.
He has since publicly disagreed with current boss Quique Setien’s suggestion that Barca could win the Champions League this season.
And Messi’s latest row came just over a month ago as he criticised the board for implying that players were not willing to take a coronavirus pay cut to support the club’s financial situation.
Messi has extended his contract eight times since 2005 and it is understood his last extension carried a clause was included which allowed him to leave at the end of any season.
However, it is thought the Barcelona captain can only walk out of the LaLiga champions to join a team not in Europe.
Messi has previously expressed interest in returning to Argentina with childhood club Newell’s Old Boys.
It remains to be seen if that wish will be granted.