Lionel Messi could leave Barcelona for free if this very specific set of circumstances happens
Lionel Messi's new Barcelona contract incredibly includes a clause that could see him leave the Catalans giants for free.
But before Manchester City and PSG get too excited, it all rests on a fairly unlikely set of circumstances relating to the recent vote for Catalan independence.
The 30-year-old five-time Ballon d'Or winner penned a new five-year deal in November, which saw him become the world's highest paid footballer, earning £500,000 a week, but it was his new release clause that caught the eye.
Reported as £700m, it was claimed by El Mundo that a special clause had been inserted that would allow Messi to leave Barcelona for free if Catalonia is granted independence.
His father and agent Jorge has now revealed that while that clause does indeed exists it's not as straight-forward as that.
He told Argentine radio station The Red : "All that has been said is not true.
"There is an agreement that Lionel will remain at the club as long as they are playing in a top league.
"If Catalonia gets independence then Lionel would remain as long as they were in a competitive league."
So if Barcelona continue to play in La Liga regardless of what happens with Catalan independence in the future Messi will stay.
And it looks like that would be the case after Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed the club will remain in La Liga - even if Catalonia is granted independence.
He had previously suggested the club could look to play elsewhere in the future but speaking at the club's AGM he said: "You can be sure that this board will always act in the club's defence," said Bartomeu.
"We will never put the club nor its presence in any competition at risk.
"That's why, to all the members, I say that we want to continue playing in La Liga and, as of today, our participation is guaranteed.
"It's mutually beneficial for La Liga and Barcelona for that link to continue."
Messi penned his deal a month after locals in the regional overwhelmingly voted to break away from the Spanish state but had their referendum result deemed illegal by the central government.
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