Gerard Pique says he already knew about a clause in Lionel Messi’s contract allowing him to leave Barcelona for free at the end of each season.
It was recently claimed by Spanish publication El Pais that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner can depart the Catalan giants for no cost at the end of each season following his 32nd birthday, which passed in June. A Barcelona representative would subsequently confirm this is the case.
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- Messi’s current Barca contract runs until June 2021.
- But it is said to contain a clause allowing him to leave for free at the end of each season.
- The reported clause came into effect following his 32nd birthday in June.
- Pique insists he already knew about such an agreement before the news was reported.
- But the Spaniard isn’t worried about Messi’s commitment to Barca.
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu later explained that this is not the first time the club have included such stipulations in the contracts of long-serving players entering the final years of their careers within the formal documents.
“Leo Messi has a contract through to the 2020/21 season, but the player is able to leave Barca before the final season,” Bartomeu told club media as he explained why they have agreed to such uncertainty.
“It’s the same case as with the final contracts that Xavi, [Carles] Puyol and [Andres] Iniesta had. They are players who deserve that liberty, and we shouldn’t worry, as they are very committed to Barca.
“We want Messi to play for Barca through to 2021 and beyond. We are very calm.”
Messi has previously hinted that he would like to return to Argentina to play for Newell’s Old Boys at some point in his career, but that he would only play for Barcelona in Europe.
And Pique insists he is not worried about Messi’s commitment to Barca or his future at the club.
“I already knew Messi is able to leave for free at the end of each season,” Pique told Spanish publication Cadena Ser .
“But we all know the commitment Leo has to Barca and it doesn’t worry me at all.
“He’s earned the right to be able to choose what he does with his future after everything he’s given the club.”
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Messi is yet to feature so far this season having been sidelined with a calf injury but is expected to return against Valencia after the international break.
In his absence, Barca have had an unconvincing start to the new La Liga season, taking just four points from their first three games.
Messi “impossible” to replace
When Messi does eventually leave the Nou Camp, he will likely be an impossible talent to replace.
That’s according to former Barca midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who recently hinted he bore witness to some unbelievable skill from the Argentina international during their time together with the Blaugrana.
“I think that’s probably impossible,” Fabregas responded when asked if there will ever be another Messi.
“We’ve seen the likes of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, amazing players, but Messi has been the best for 15 years. He’s in his 17th season and he’s been the best since he was 18 years old.
“I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe. Every three days he scores goals, he heads off to play for Argentina, he comes back jet-lagged and scores a hat-trick… that’s not normal, believe me.
“I would have liked to enjoy playing more with Leo. I had a bit of bad luck in that respect. The first season we had together we had a great understanding. But the two following seasons was when I had my worst time with injuries. I wasn’t at my best at key moments and that affected everyone, including Leo.”