Argentine former Real Madrid forward, head coach and director general Jorge Valdano has weighed in on the drama surrounding Lionel Messi’s announced desire to leave FC Barcelona.
Valdano, who won the 1986 World Cup with Argentina, said on Onda Cero show El Transistor that his compatriot would be best served by making a clean break with the Catalan club and negotiating a deal to the advantage of all sides concerned.
“Either he goes to another club or to his home, but he has already left Barcelona. I am totally convinced. I have no doubt," said Valdano.
Barcelona’s record goalscorer, according to Valdano, is sure to continue a successful career elsewhere.
"The sooner Barcelona realise they are going to lose the best player in their history, the sooner they can focus on rebuilding."
When asked if Messi might double back on his announced decision to leave Barcelona, similar to how he retracted his announced international retirement after Argentina lost the Copa America Centenario final to Chile in 2016. Valdano said:
"They are completely different situations because there is no contract or anything similar when Leo left the Albiceleste and returned."
Jorge Valdano, who currently works as a commentator for BeIN Sports (Spain), added that the situation was becoming increasingly difficult for the Catalan club.
"There are no personal problems. I don't know how far this period is going to go, which is toxic for the club, player and La Liga. [Barca president Josep Maria] Bartomeu must think that when Messi leaves, he should go too… but prolonging this seems to me to be harmful to Barca."
Messi’s Transfer Challenge
After FC Barcelona’s forward Lionel Messi informed the club last week that he wants to leave, speculations were triggered as to which club might sign the football icon.
Amid rumours that Manchester City might be a frontrunner, Forbes reported that the English Premier League club could not afford to sign the football sensation on anything but a free transfer.
Messi, who had long been suggested as wanting to leave the Catalan club, with the rumors increasing after Barca’s recent 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals, signed a contract in 2017 that is set to expire next June.
An incorporated £623million (€700mln; $839mln) release clause allows him to unilaterally leave the club at the end of each season.
Messi did not show up for Barca's first day of pre-season training Monday, following his announced intention to leave, under the belief that the clause on a free transfer has been activated.
FC Barcelona and La Liga are of the opinion the release clause remains the only valid way to terminate Messi’s deal. Nevertheless, reports suggest that the Catalonian club is still offering Messi the chance to extend his contract until 2023.