Messi wants to leave Barca

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Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona for free after handing in transfer request
A contract clause stated he could leave for free if he told club he wanted to go
Barcelona are confident Messi wouldn’t have a legal case if they denied his exit
The club told him he can go but Man City, PSG or Inter would have to pay £200m

Barcelona want to avoid a legal battle with Lionel Messi at all costs but have stood firm by telling him he can only leave for a fee of £200million.

Messi handed in a transfer request after new Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman told him his ‘privileges in the squad were over’ in showdown talks about his future.

Manchester City, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain are leading the race to sign the Argentinian star this summer but will have to part with an eye-watering sum to land their man, according to AS.

Messi has a clause in his contract allowing him to move for free provided he informed the club he wanted to leave 20 days prior to June 10 – which was initially the end of season date.

The 33-year-old’s legal advisers are however arguing that he should have had an extended period to indicate he wanted out as the ‘end of the season’ this year was the final of the Champions League between Bayern Munich and PSG on August 23.

Messi is desperate for a new challenge but realises few clubs will be able to finance a move for him and so is exploring the possibility of departing for free despite having one year left on his deal.

It is understood Messi only made it clear that he wanted to sign for another club this summer in the days leading up to Sunday’s final, and Barcelona are confident he would not have a legal case if they denied his exit.

Barcelona know it will be impossible to keep hold of Messi but are not willing to allow him to leave for free and are seeking a world-record fee of £200m.

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