07:57 GMT15 June 2021
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    Lionel Messi, who plays as forward and captain for FC Barcelona and has spent his entire career at Camp Nou, dropped the bombshell announcement that he wished to exit the club on a free transfer in August 2020, but was forced to back down as the then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted a clause in his contract barred him from leaving.

    Following FC Barcelona’s Copa del Rey triumph, Lionel Messi has indicated he may be planning to remain at Nou Camp next season.

    The Argentinian, 33, had handed in a transfer request last August amid a season marred by an embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich that wiped out the Spanish club’s Champions League title hopes. Now, he has touted its Copa del Rey triump in 2021 as a "turning point" for Barcelona.

    Messi, who is yet to sign a new deal, with his contract at the Camp Nou expiring on 30 June, joined Diario Ole for a lengthy interview where he said:

    "The truth is that the recent Copa del Rey was special due to the period we were in, the club has gone a couple of years of not having a great time due to different results and titles… this Copa del Rey was a turning point, and very important."

    The winner of a record six Ballon d'Or awards added:

    "Whenever I compete, I compete to win and try to achieve all the objectives, to get titles. Beyond that, I like to win and get titles. The more the better."

    A spate of recent reports appeared to be increasingly upbeat regarding the forward’s chances of staying at the club beyond this season.

    Soccer Football - Copa del Rey - 2020/21 Final - FC Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao - Estadio La Cartuja de Sevilla, Seville, Spain - April 17, 2021 FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi and teammates celebrate winning the Copa del Rey with the trophy
    © REUTERS / MARCELO DEL POZO
    Soccer Football - Copa del Rey - 2020/21 Final - FC Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao - Estadio La Cartuja de Sevilla, Seville, Spain - April 17, 2021 FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi and teammates celebrate winning the Copa del Rey with the trophy

    While third place in the La Liga campaign might have been Barcelona’s worst finish since 2008, the Spanish Cup final victory against Athletic Bilbao is seen as having somewhat eased the side’s disappointment.

    Messi scored 38 goals in 47 games this season, yet the end of a two-year trophy drought for Barcelona is viewed by experts as likely to decide the soccer celeb’s next move.

    ​Both PSG and Manchester City have been linked with signing the forward, and will ostensibly continue monitoring his contract situation until a new deal has been penned.

    Earlier, Barca, which had reportedly run up staggering debts worth more than £1 billion, was suggested as prioritising a move to land Erling Haaland, the Norwegian striker for Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund.

    As for Lionel Messi, contract negotiations had earlier been reported as underway with Barcelona, according to Diario Sport.

    It was suggested that some manner of an agreement between the club’s president Joan Laporta and Messi’s father Jorge had been negotiated. A recent report in Deportes Cuatro also claimed that the Argentine would only be offered half of his current salary but over a 10-year contract.

    In any case, the long, drawn-out saga of the Argentinian athlete’s future career is nearing its end.

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    Tags:
    Ballon d'Or, Ballon d'Or, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, FC Barcelona, Lionel Messi, Lionel Messi
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