Barcelona legend Rivaldo feels it is a formality that Lionel Messi will be leaving Barcelona at the end of the season, insisting the new board will be unable to tempt him to stay.
Messi is able to depart the Nou Camp at the end of the season on a free, and constant links with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City refuse to go away.
The Argentine shocked the football world in the summer when he publicly requested to leave his lifelong club and seek a new challenge, notifying the club via an official burofax, only for Barca to drag their feet and keep Messi locked into his current deal.
Messi currently has the biggest release clause in football, contractually set at £629million, though the Argentine claimed Barca should have been allowed him to leave at the end of the season if he gives prior notice.
Barca were able to hold firm and keep their talisman on the grounds that Messi alerted the club following a June cut-off date, due to the delayed finish to the campaign because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, with Messi still appearing to be unhappy in Catalonia, Rivaldo has given his take on the current situation, acknowledging that all signs point to Messi’s exit, particularly with the club needing to make financial cuts.
‘Reaching an agreement to renew Messi’s contract is going to be tough with a reduced margin to increase his salary,’ Rivaldo wrote in his Betfair column.
‘Of course, Messi will have better offers from other clubs, and was already trying to leave the club by the end of last season. I can’t see how our board will convince him to move back on that decision.
‘In my opinion, only winning the Champions League or LaLiga this season or having [Ronald] Koeman getting the team playing beautiful football can convince Messi to reconsider his options.
‘Unfortunately, I’m afraid this will be his last season with the club.’
Earlier this week Messi once again twisted the knife in his ongoing war of words with the Barca hierarchy, telling reporters he is ‘tired of always being the problem for everything’ at the Nou Camp.
After touching down in Catalonia following his international duties with Argentina, Messi, who was on the brink of sensationally leaving last summer after becoming disillusioned with the club’s hierarchy, was mobbed by media at the airport.