In Brief

Barcelona transfer news: Lionel Messi could leave for free in 2020

The Argentine legend is thought to have a special exit clause that would allow him to join a non-elite club

Barcelona want star striker Lionel Messi to stay for the rest of his career but according to reports in Spain the 31-year-old could leave the Camp Nou for nothing in two years’ time.

The Catalan publication Mundo Deportivo claims that the Argentine No.10 has a clause in his current contract that would allow him to leave Barcelona on a free transfer in 2020 – as long as he doesn’t sign for an “elite club”.  

Elite, ESPN explains, means a team that isn’t based in Europe’s big five leagues: La Liga, the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1.  

Messi’s current contract at Barcelona expires in 2021 and the club are already planning to offer him an extension until 2022 or 2023.

But if the 2020 clause is correct where could Messi go next? ESPN reports that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner would like to play for his boyhood club – Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina – before retiring from football.

In a 2016 interview, Messi said: “I would love to [return]. It is something I have kept an eye on because it was my dream as a child. Obviously my life started to change and went another way, but I have no regrets.

“It’s something I have kept an eye on. I want to play in Argentine football and Newell’s, where I grew up.”

In September Messi was linked with a move to the US and David Beckham’s Major League Soccer (MLS) side Inter Miami.

There are claims that former England captain Beckham wants Messi to be Inter Miami’s star name when they join the MLS in 2020.

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