Rio Ferdinand sends Chelsea fans into meltdown with Lionel Messi transfer claim

Rio Ferdinand sent Chelsea supporters into a frenzy last night after claiming he had ‘just heard’ that Frank Lampard was pursuing an audacious move for Barcelona icon Lionel Messi.

Messi, 33, has shaken the world of football to its foundations after sending a transfer request via fax to Barcelona’s offices on Tuesday, signalling his intention to exercise a clause in his contract which could potentially allow him to leave for free after nearly two decades of service.

The stunning development comes less than a fortnight after Messi and Barca crashed out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage in a crushing 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich, who would go on to win the competition.

The Argentine’s relationship with Josep Maria Bartomeu deteriorated significantly over the course of Barcelona’s disappointing 2019/20 campaign and hordes of fans reacted to the earth-shattering news by calling for their president’s resignation outside the Nou Camp yesterday evening.

While some reports suggest Barca will do everything in their power to convince Messi to change his mind, others claim they are prepared to do business with interested teams for a world-record price.

There are doubts as to whether any side would be willing or able to fund such a move in the middle of a pandemic but Messi’s camp are exploring an apparent clause in his current deal which could see him depart on a free transfer.

Barcelona are adamant this clause has expired and insist the six-time Ballon d’Or winner is tied to the club until 2021 with a €700million release clause.

According to Catalan newspaper Sport, Messi’s representatives are exploring a sensational switch to Old Trafford – but former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand suggested a move to Chelsea could be on the cards.

‘Just heard Frank Lampard is now in for Messi,’ Ferdinand posted on Twitter. ‘Some window this if Lamps pulls this off!!’

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has sanctioned a spending spree to make up for lost time in the wake of the club’s two-window transfer ban, with Leipzig’s Timo Werner and Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech arriving earlier this summer for a combined total of around £80m.

The Blues are also closing on three major deals for Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz – but a bid to sign Messi really would shake Premier League football to its very core.