In what will come as a major shock to many Barcelona fans, superstar Lionel Messi could leave for free at the end of the season. Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed rumours of a clause in Lionel Messi's contract that will allow him to leave the club at the end of the season. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner signed a new four-year deal with Barcelona in 2017, but Bartomeu says he is free to end his contract beforehand. However, the Barca president said on Friday that the Catalan club are not worried about Messi's future, saying "we are very calm".
"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 Barcelona's in-house television channel.
"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, Barca's record goalscorer, is currently out injured with a calf injury, with the team struggling in his absence, managing to collect just four points from their opening three La Liga matches.
Meanwhile, Barcelona will have to come through a section containing both Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan after the three former winners all came out together in Thursday's UEFA Champions League group stage draw in Monaco, while holders Liverpool will face Napoli again.
Barcelona, Dortmund and Inter, with nine European Cups between them, were drawn together in Group F along with the Czech champions Slavia Prague.
Beaten by Liverpool in the semi-finals last season, Lionel Messi and Barcelona remain favourites to advance as they seek a first Champions League crown since 2015.
(With AFP inputs)