Barcelona set Lionel Messi asking price after accepting transfer request

Barcelona have accepted Lionel Messi’s decision to quit the club this summer but will not allow the Argentine to leave for less than £200million.

The 33-year-old stunned the club’s board on Tuesday by handing in a transfer request and an emergency meeting was called to discuss Messi’s future immediately.

The Catalans are understandably desperate to keep the five-time Ballon d’Or winner but with such a short turnaround before the new season Barcelona can ill-afford to allow the situation to overshadow their preparations.

As such, Barcelona’s board have accepted Messi’s desire to quit the Camp Nou but Catalan broadcaster RAC claim they will not sell for less than a world record price.

Paris Saint-Germain broke the world transfer record in 2017 to sign Neymar from Barcelona for a fee of £199.5million.

That deal sent shockwaves around the football world but it was relatively straightforward in that the Brazilian had a release clause that the Ligue 1 giants decided to activate.

Barcelona before any deal that allows Messi to leave the Camp Nou must trump Neymar’s departure and the Catalans want at least £200m to allow the Argentine to leave.

Given Messi reportedly earns around £970,000-a-week in Barcelona and is 33 years of age, it’s unlikely that any club in world football would foot the bill for the Argentine in the midst of a pandemic.

However, Messi’s team believe they can exploit a loophole that would allow him to leave on a free transfer.

The Argentine had the chance to do so earlier this summer but a clause in his deal expired without him informing Barcelona that he wished to depart.

From the club’s point of view, they now feel the clause is finished and that Messi has another year to run on his deal.

But Messi’s team will argue that the season’s extension means the clause should also be prolonged, meaning he could still walk away for free.